Sony Pictures Animation , 10th Anniversary

10 years. Did anyone know at the time just how important Sony Pictures Animation was going to be for the future of the company? That Imageworks was going to become an animation studio with a shrinking presence in traditional vfx? With Amazing Spiderman and MIB3, there is still some business coming from the Lot. But in the future, Imageworks is the business.

Look at our success so far with SPA’s ideas (worldwide grosses):

Open Season September 29, 2006 $197,309,027
Surf’s Up June 8, 2007 $149,044,513
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs September 18, 2009 $243,006,126
The Smurfs July 29, 2011 $563,749,323
Arthur Christmas November 23, 2011 $147,419,472
The Pirates! Band of Misfits April 27, 2012 $114,462,477

We all got an email from Michael and Amy a few months ago that had this note about Sony Pictures Entertainment:

“Our division closed the year with record revenues and our seventeenth consecutive year of contributing positively to Sony’s operating income.”

How much more of an endorsement do you need as to your value to the company?

Did everyone see the Comic-Con press announcements of the things SPA is developing? It looked to us like Imageworks is an animation studio.

Look at this list on wikipedia of everything we are working on:

Hotel Transylvania September 28, 2012
The Smurfs 2 July 31, 2013
Cloudy 2: Revenge of the Leftovers February 7, 2014
The Familiars
The Smurfs 3 July 24, 2015
Popeye
RollerCoaster Tycoon
Futuropolis
Make My Own Monster
Muncle Trogg
How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack
Instant Karma
Chickenhare
Harold and the Purple Crayon
How to Live Forever
Secret Histories
Untitled David Sussman Project
Pooch Café
Untitled Tonka Trucks movie
Kazorn & The Unicorn
ALF
Manimal

Even if you cross off the obvious “not going to happen” ones, that’s still a ton of product.

But no one who will actually make those movies will get any residuals or share in their success, except for one important exception. 5% of the revenue from DVD ,Blu-Ray, and other sales go into the Motion Picture and Television Fund. Those are the residuals you aren’t getting put into your retirement account or paying for health insurance. Those residuals go to the voice actors, producers, writers, and the 38 artists that work for Sony Pictures Animation.

During Hotel T , Imageworks artists are working on the other side of a cubicle from SPA artists, while earning inferior benefits. We’ve already written about how nearly every other crew member on Sony productions gets better benefits than Imageworks employees do.

We aren’t alone, PDI and Nick CG you are getting the same raw deal. Part of your company earns benefits from the work you’ve done, and it isn’t your part.

How many more films will you work on before the axe falls one day and you can’t get health insurance?

How many more days will you come in sick because you can’t afford to not get payed for a day?

How much longer will you be working with no pension benefits?

How much longer will you stay late and work hard for the benefits of other divisions that you will not share in?

Rep cards are still valid after leaving the company.

This process doesn’t happen overnight.

(Are we going to have this conversation again when Cloudy 3 and Popeye 2 go into production)?

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4 Responses to Sony Pictures Animation , 10th Anniversary

  1. El Zappo says:

    Many artists who would like these benefits have not sent a rep card in out of worry that SPI won’t “like” them anymore. Some don’t know that sending in a card is anonymous. And now that they are/will be let go until they are needed again, they think it’s too late to send it in. :/

  2. Dave Rand says:

    I had a great time working for Image Works, add a great union to that studio and they probably wouldn’t need recruiters anymore. The Talent would just line up, and maybe even come back….. and that is what it’s all about, Talent. It’s not chasing subsidized welfare, or bigger outsourcing models, it’s Talent you can keep close and hold onto, and grow with… a lesson learned recently I’d say….

  3. Clicking Bandit says:

    Good to see Hotel T is doing well in the box office. This made me wonder, had SPI been union, would the artists see better benefits from a well performing film than from an under-performing one? And does the BC government get any money back from all the subsidies it gave Sony for the Vancouver studio? Was it an investment on their part, or just free money?

    • 839spi says:

      Good questions. Our experience with working union is that the benefits remain the same and portable no matter what, which is the advantage. If the studio is doing well , it makes the usual “we just don’t have the money to pay anyone benefits” argument much harder to swallow. Sony will still be crying this song for everyone they permalance on Cloudy2 . How much longer will the artists continue to swallow this BS? As far as incentives go, most are outright cash giveaways to the most profitable companies on earth. At least the layed off BC crew maintains health coverage.

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