Has Production on Astroboy Shut Down?

Steve Hulett is the Business Rep. and Kevin Koch the president of The Animation Guild (TAG), Local 839 IATSE.  They also keep a very interesting blog about the ups, downs, ins and outs of living and working as a professional animator.

Sadly, they’re now reporting that production on Imagi’s Astroboy movie appears to have shut down.  This comes just days after I last reported on the film, on how it appears to have just scraped through it’s troubles with the recession.  They have no official word on the matter, just information from those that have been working on the film.

Koch reported, “We’ve heard from one of Imagi’s Los Angeles animators that he was called at home on Saturday, Jan. 24, and told that the studio was out of cash, and that he should not report to work on Monday. Since this is all happening over the weekend, we’ve been unable to get any confirmation from official studio sources.”

One anonymous source said “They’ve not only had cash flow problems, but production pipeline/workflow issues, stymied further by transcontinental communication issues. They’ve attempted to misguidedly import production systems that could work well if the expectations of the creative team, mostly Western, were more in sync with the Eastern culture. Not a new problem, but one very evident at Imagi.”

It’s very sad to read this, but to temper that just a little, there’s no reason to assume the shutdown is permanent. If new funds are secured and transitioned in a timely fashion, there’s every chance that production will start again soon. Unfortunately, there’s also no reason to assume that all of the animation team will be kept on the project, and I fear that there could be a large number of redundancies.

Some indication of how far along production on Astroboy has come would probably give us some idea of how likely it is that the project is shelved entirely. It isn’t beyond the realms of impossibility that the work done so far would now be padded out with inferior quality sequences and the finished product (and I mean product) rushed out, straight to DVD. If you’ve seen Arabian Knights, the botched “completion” of Richard Williams’ sublime labour of love, The Thief and the Cobbler, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

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