About 50 of the 13 1/2-inch-tall, half-pound statues are manufactured every year for the Academy Awards. The statues are made of a metal called brittanium, whose makeup is proprietary, and coated in gold.
Siegel said R.S. Owens will start work on the Oscar statues soon in advance of the Feb. 24 show. But right now, the factory is producing, among other things, trophies for this year's Cotton Bowl.
Part of the labor cost problem, Siegel said, is the time spent polishing the statues by hand.
"Just on the statuette, there's over an hour of polishing," he said, "and on the base there's probably 45 minutes of polishing."
St. Regis President Richard Firkser said that labor-intensive process is part of the reason his company is buying R.S. Owens.
"It's really the workmanship of the artisans in Chicago that make it happen," he said. "Unfortunately, it doesn't make economic sense to hire back each and every employee."
Firkser said he doesn't know yet how many will be rehired, and he declined to say how much St. Regis is paying for R.S. Owens.
The Owens name will continue to be used for the Oscars and other products made in Chicago.
An email request for comment sent by The Associated Press to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences was not returned.