Special Effects Company The Orphanage Shuts Down

February 5, 2009
Source: SlashFilm, ProLost blog

The Orphanage

The recession has been hitting Hollywood hard, even though we may not be able to always notice it. Last week we reported that Imagi Animation had to shut down for a week until additional funding came through. Now today another great special effects house has shut down. Although you may not know The Orphanage by name, you certainly know their work. Co-founded in 1999 by ex-ILM staffers Stu Maschwitz, Jonathan Rothbart and Scott Stewart, the San Francisco based visual effects / CGI house has worked on films like The Spirit, Iron Man, Grindhouse, Live Free or Die Hard, Pirates of the Caribbean, Night at the Museum, Superman Returns, The Host, Sin City and so many more movies. It will be sad to see them go.

We first heard about this news via SlashFilm, where they linked to a post on co-founder Stu Maschwitz's blog that announced that they are "suspending operations indefinitely." You may be wondering why I'm giving this company some time in the spotlight and it's because over my last few years of working in the industry, I've become somewhat familiar with the company and their work. And although I also love places like ILM, I support the "little" effects houses like this that were able to make a name for themselves in an incredibly competitive marketplace and push the limits of their own capabilities at the same time.

Maschwitz writes a brief, but wonderful, letter on his blog about his company's sad ending. "It's no accident that our company's name described a place for people, people who may be thrown together, but who ultimately create their own destinies. Scott once described his vision of an orphanage as 'a hundred success stories waiting to happen,' and that is exactly what came to pass inside our offices. We have had the privilege of working with many 'Orphans' over the years, and watching them grow and take on new responsibilities has been the single greatest part of coming to work every day." I was so moved by this news and his message that I had to give The Orphanage one last hurrah just as they close their doors forever.

"A message to the visual effects industry: You will never find a better employee than a former Orphan."

Find more posts: Movie News, Opinions



Ah what a shame! I've just recently bought Stu's book too. Being a 3D guy myself, its never nice to see ur industry suffer. Hmm I see a pattern about to develop.

dom on Feb 5, 2009


Man, that sucks! 🙁 Best of luck to Scott Stewart & everyone else connected with The Orphanage in the future. Now I am REALLY looking forward to Scott's 'Legion' coming out Jan. 22, 2010!

J2 on Feb 5, 2009


Alex, being in the "industry" you should know that The Orphanage is/was a visual effects company. There's a big difference. Just a heads up.

Nick on Feb 5, 2009


That's depressing. They were getting so good.

Fuelbot on Feb 5, 2009


I interned at their L.A. office in college and it was one of the more fun unpaid experiences I've had. Everyone there was distinctly nice an unHollywood in their ego and demeanor and it's sad that their high quailty hardwork wasn't enough to cut it.

FilmFemme on Feb 5, 2009


Nick - I know there are visual effects, special effects, make up and CGI houses, and they all do different things... But I've seen The Orphanage be called both special effects and visual effects, so I guess I just use both as well.

Alex Billington on Feb 5, 2009


That sucks! I wonder what made it all fall apart being as they were making a solid mark.

Johnny Neat on Feb 5, 2009


Great, another reason why SIN CITY 2 will be delayed.

Ryan on Feb 5, 2009


All thanks to George W. Bush. This is so very sad.

Nut-Meg on Feb 5, 2009


Damn this recession.

Merc on Feb 5, 2009


hollywood is fucked now

darrin on Feb 6, 2009


Hmm, it seems like someone does not like hearing the facts on racial profiling and discrimination employment in CGI, but just because you delete my comments does not mean the problem is gone. This recession will get worse, try to delete that!

ME on Sep 26, 2009


I always enjoyed their work... very sad indeed. It IS a hard knock life.

Damon on Nov 27, 2009


To bad they were good:(

chrisblue77 on Dec 14, 2010

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