Bad news for those of you that want to see Astro Boy on the big screen. Okay, it’s not 100% bad news, rather it’s a tiny PR leak that wasn’t plugged,  leading to speculation that studio currently producing Astro Boy, Imagi, has temporarily gone under due to a budget crisis.

The only thing we know for certain right now is that Imagi had some funding problems leading into the credit crunch that probably weren’t alliviated by said crunch. If they were, I want to know why an animation company that makes films (cool to look at but really bad investments) got a line of credit while I sometimes pray that I get laid off instead of fired so I can qualify for unemployment.

All kidding aside…

TAG, The Animation Guild, put together a lot of pieces when they received a disturbing report from an Imagi employee:

We’ve heard from one of Imagi’s Los Angeles animators that he was called at home on Saturday, Jan. 24, and told that the studio was out of cash, and that he should not report to work on Monday. Since this is all happening over the weekend, we’ve been unable to get any confirmation from official studio sources.

We’ve previously noted that the company informed the Guild in December that the company was having cashflow problems related to the credit crisis, and it’s noteworthy that just a few days ago the studio reported it had found a new depositary bank for their American depositary receipt program, so clearly they’re scrambling to get additional funds.

If that isn’t enough to cause concern (don’t come into work on Monday? How come no one calls me when the site goes into maintenance?!), Forbes.com wrote an article on January 14th that might explain the sudden shuttering of the Imagi’s doors with no news about the company’s future:

Their boss, Douglas Glen, Imagi’s chief executive, had just come back from the American Film Market in Los Angeles, which was devastated by the gloom and doom spanning the globe. “If markets don’t return to some semblance of normalcy, it is going to be difficult to keep operations going,” an ashen-faced Glen told a visitor. Only two months before he had triumphantly secured $30 million in financing for his movie animation company. Then $20 million of it fell through.

Yeah, the majority of your multi-million dollar financing falls through unexpectedly, that might cause you to close your doors.

The good news is that we haven’t heard anything (yet) about this being permanent, because if Imagi goes under, Astro Boy has an 80% chance of dying with it.