Sony Pictures Imageworks to Move its HQ to Vancouver

725 Granville | BCBusiness
Sony Pictures Imageworks will take up a 74,000 square foot space above the Pacific Centre in downtown Vancouver.

Sony’s visual effects division is the latest U.S. tech outfit to gobble up office space in downtown Vancouver

Sony Pictures Imageworks announced Friday that it is moving its headquarters from Culver City, California to B.C.—and hiring hundreds of animators in the process. The Academy-award winning visual effects and animation unit of Sony Picture Digital Productions will open up its office in the new Nordstroms building, formerly Eatons, at Robson and Granville in April 2015, with space for upwards of 700 employees.
Joining future tenants Microsoft and law firm Miller Thomson, Sony Pictures Imageworks—the visual effects and character animation division of Sony Pictures Entertainment—will take up 74,000 square feet for its production headquarters above the Pacific Centre, a Cadillac Fairview property.
Sony Pictures Imageworks opened up a Vancouver office in Yaletown in 2010, with a staff of 80 artists. Like other companies in the visual effects industry, its workforce fluxuates depending on the production schedule, and is currently down from a high of 350 earlier this year. The Vancouver team—which does post-production animation and visual effects on both animated and live-action films—has completed work on Edge of Tomorrow and The Amazing Spiderman, with current and future projects that include Disney’s Guardians of the Galaxy (Aug. 1), Columbia’s Pixels (May 2015), Angry Birds (July 2016), Hotel Transylvania 2 (Sept. 2015) and the so-far-untitled Smurfs movie (Aug. 2016).
Sony joins VfX shops Industrial Light + Magic, Digital Domain and MPC, which have opened or announced new Vancouver operations in the past year. The visual effects industry relies heavily on tax breaks and incentives, with Sony Pictures Entertainment receiving a 58.4 per cent subsidy on the wages of B.C.-resident VFX artists. By contrast, U.S. software and internet companies, such as Microsoft and Facebook, have received no incentives to ramp up their local presence, according to the city and province.
The new Sony division will be headed up by a local hire, Jason Dowdeswell, who is currently VP of production operations. The executive team will include Mark Breakspear, the studio’s visual effects supervisor and Shauna Bryan, vice president, new business and production. Both arrive from Method Studios, a Vancouver VfX shop.