ImageMovers Digital, the Disney offshoot company that produces mainly performance-capture movies, will close after the completion of ‘Mars Needs Moms,’ The Hollywood Reporter announced on March 12. The movie, which is being adapted from the Brooke Breathed children’s book and is being directed by Simon Wells, is set to finish shooting by January 2011, which is when ImageWorks will close.
The Marin County facility is run by Robert Zemeckis, Jack Rapke and Steve Starkey, whom Disney hopes to continue working with after ImageWorks closes. The three are already involved in the remake of ‘Yellow Submarine,’ which is currently being developed.
The three partners also worked together at Sony before moving to ImageWorks, where they produced ‘Monster House.’ However, after Zemeckis, Rapke and Starkey signed a deal with Disney in early 2007, ImageWorks only managed to release the Jim Carey flop ‘A Christmas Carol.’ They also worked on ‘Calling All Robots’ and ‘The Stoneheart Trilogy’ while at ImageWorks, but neither saw a release.
While Disney Studios president Alan Bergman released a statement praising the ImageWorks team, saying they “..successfully built a state-of-the-art studio and produced an amazing film,” he added that because of the current recession, he needed to find other ways to “…bring creative content to audiences.” Bergman also added that the studio no longer fit Disney’s business model. It’s also rumored that the new Disney management team, run by Rich Ross, found that ImageWorks was too costly to continue, given the meager box office results that ‘A Christmas Carol’ produced.
Written by: Karen Benardello