Staff at the site in Camden were given 30 days' notice at the beginning of June but a final decision on the future of the physical effects company had not been made at that point, according to Peter Schube, president and chief operating officer of the Jim Henson Company ( Broadcast, 24.6.05). The closure is a significant blow to an oversaturated physical effects workforce.
The company continued to cite the dollar's unfavourable exchange rate and "the absence of concrete tax incentives in the UK production market" as the reasons for shutting up its European shop front.
Schube said: "We are grateful to the UK film industry for its important place in our company's history and we are confident that it will remain a significant production centre for us."
Henson said it will continue to use London as a production base and has not ruled out a return if there is an upturn in the UK film industry. The company said that its own film and TV projects will not be affected and the Creature Shop will continue to service third-party clients through its Los Angeles and New York bases. It also aims to manage freelance crews in London on a project-by-project basis.
As well as providing more conventional puppetry, the Creature Shop worked on Henson feature films such as Five Children and Itand developed the Henson Digital Performance System (HDPS), enabling puppeteers to move computer-generated characters in real time. It featured in the production of Frances, a pre-school project in partnership with HIT Entertainment.