And while this latest slump has yet to lead to mass closures in the production industry, a few shops have closed their doors, citing the frying-pan-to-fire effects of 9-11, and most agree more will follow suit. San Francisco post house Western Images called it quits after 15 years of business; effects and design shop Click 3x shuttered its Atlanta office; and even industry stalwart Propaganda Films turned to investors for a new round of financing.
Making matters worse is that in late August and early September, workflow was showings signs of a recovery, particularly after Labor Day. "For a week there it was great," says Richard Winkler, executive producer at New York animation house Curious Pictures. And while some new projects are being greenlighted, many have been tabled until the first of the year. "Classic, high-budget mainstream national spots still seem to be waiting in the wings," Winkler says. "Which seems to be smart, because there does seem to be a fair amount of heebie-jeebies and a sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop." But how big is the shakeout likely to be? "It depends on how long this goes on," he says.