‘This Is the End,’ ‘Now You See Me’ VFX Firm Closes Doors, 100 People Laid Off

'This Is the End,' 'Now You See Me' VFX Firm Closes Doors, 100 People Laid Off

Canadian visual effects firm Modus goes out of business

Modus FX, a Canadian visual effects vendor that counts “Now You See Me” and “This is the End” among its credits, is shutting down after six years.

Roughly 100 people have been let go, co-founder and visual effects supervisor Yanick Wilisky told TheWrap. The company was undone after a number of projects it was slated to work on were delayed.

“We were swinging from rope to rope and we went to grab the other rope, but it was too far away,” Wilisky said.

Also read: ‘Noah’ VFX Firm Loses a Bundle on Biblical Epic (Exclusive)

The company, which is based just outside of Montreal, was also suffering from cash flow problems. After a payment for a past job failed to materialize last Friday, Wilisky said he and his partners decided they could no longer afford to stay in business.

Modus recently wrapped work on three projects — “Robocop,” a French version of “Beauty and the Beast” and the Discovery series “Strip the City.”

“We still owe money and we're trying to work deals out,” Wilisky said. “I didn't want to keep struggling along like some other visual effects studios have done, because it just gets harder and harder to get back on your feet. We didn't create Modus to be like that. We created it to make beautiful images.”

Modus joins more than a half dozen visual effects companies that have shut their doors in recent years or been forced to file for bankruptcy, among them Digital Domain, Rhythm & Hues and Asylum Visual Effects.

Also read: YouTube Documentary ‘Life After Pi’ Chronicles Collapse of Rhythm & Hues (Video)

Visual effects companies operate with very low margins and very high overhead costs, owing to the high price of equipment and personnel. One cancelled job can push them into financial ruin. Compounding issues, companies are asked to submit fixed bids on films they hope to work on, making them responsible for most cost overruns.

“It's a business that's still trying to find itself,” Wilisky said. “There needs to be more changes so companies like ours don't keep going under.”



  • An ex-Modus Employee

    Just to make things clear, when it closed down on friday there was only about 15-20 people left in the company, not 100 as it's been said. Lots of people left over the past few months, and a few people have been let go during the weeks prior to the close down. Anyway, I wish the best to everyone who's been laid off on friday !

  • Film Biz Economist

    Like the early days of the auto industry, there are just too many companies competing for the same pie. People want to blame incentives, fixed bids, no union, everything. Just too many companies. Face the facts. Merge or die.

    • You Derptard

      You really don't know what's going on. There is too much work for the major companies to work on. This is why smaller boutiques work on shots for films. There is enough work to go around. Mo-r0ns like yourself don't understand how subsidies, fixed bids and unpaid work kills studios from any size. Smaller ones such as this to larger ones like R&H go bankrupt due to the system. Next time don't respond as you look like an uneducated derp.

      • Workinghard

        Too much undercutting . We have to charge for additions. We can't keep on absorbing production's costs. The bin is full of dead companies.

  • Hervé Maxwell

    yessss… wayyyyy tooo many companies… Natural selection will take care of it..

    • You Derptard

      yeeeees…. some m0rons like him just need not respond. Lets have 1 company take on all the work and ship it out to China… like Apple. Oh wait.. Apple's innovation died years ago and their stocks have tanked. So much for one company to do it all….

      • http://mysite.verizon.net/vzepr1xp/index.html unsean

        Howard Maxwell is delusional, yet you’re in the same neighborhood with your bizarre—and seemingly unprovoked Apple rant, which as far as I can tell not only has nothing to do with the discussion but is also factually inaccurate (who was first to introduce a 64 bit processor into mobile devices (a move the competition is still scrambling to recover from, by the way), who led the way with tablet computers (Apple ay not have invented the tablet computer, but they’re the first to make it viable with consumers),

  • JefferyHaas

    Well well well…how does it feel?
    See, this game, the TAX CREDIT game, eventually gets weaponized, and eventually the cities, states, and even COUNTRIES who think that they can be smug about kidnapping work can feel secure about their longevity. Tax credits are like crack cocaine. The taxpayers take all the cost, risk and overhead and subsidize it for the companies, and the companies get to keep the profits, until the money behind the projects decides that they want an even DEEPER cut in the costs.

    Then they start looking overseas, to the third world.
    Enjoy moving to Bangladesh, Thailand, Hong Kong, China and India.
    That's where your jobs are now, and you'll make ten percent of what you made before.

    Don't complain!