Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.



Hillsboro animation studio tells state officials that layoffs are necessary to 'keep its employees safe.'

PMG PHOTO: KEVIN HARDEN - A stop-action figure from Laika's 'Coraline' movie was part of the Hillsboro company's 2017-18 Portland Art Museum exhibit. Laika said it would lay off 50 people because of COVID-19.Hillsboro animation studio Laika said it will lay off more than 50 employees as a way to fight the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter to state officials, the studio, which has made a string of Academy Award-nominated films, including 2009's "Coraline," said the decision was driven by a desire to keep employees safe.

"Recent evidence suggests that COVID-19 transmission may be airborne, and the science indicates that more people in an indoor space creates higher risk of COVID-19 transmission," company attorney Colin Geiger wrote in an Aug. 17 letter to Oregon's Office of Workforce Investment. "Therefore, keeping employees safe requires the studio to simplify operations and implement and maintain safety protocols that minimize staff in close quarters and breathing the same air, for the foreseeable future."

Layoffs are expected to begin Sept. 1, and staff were told of the layoffs Aug. 14, Geiger said.

"While the company hopes this reduction is temporary and that it will be able to rehire its full workforce in the near future, the Studio does not know when business may return to some sort of normal and cannot make any guarantees about reemployment," Geiger said.

The Hillsboro studio employs more than 300 people.

Owned by Nike co-founder Phil Knight and run by his son, Travis, Laika Studios specializes in blending traditional stop-motion animation with computer generated graphics. The studio has released five films, each nominated for an Academy Award for best animated film. Its most recent film "Missing Link" starred Zach Galifianakis, Zoe Saldana and Hugh Jackman and was released in 2019.

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