End Game

Last year I posted about Digital Domain’s $17M investment to co-produce Ender’s Game where former CEO John Textor handicapped the numbers:

If the film does $60 million at the domestic box office, dare I say a number that low, that is beyond abject failure for a film anticipated like this, we would have total proceeds, that when combined with our initial outlay of $18 million, we’d lose about $6.8 million.

That was then and this is now:

After topping the box office last weekend, Ender’s Game plummeted 62 percent to $10.3 million this weekend. Through 10 days, the sci-fi flick has earned $44 million, which is a bit behind notorious 2013 bomb After Earth. With The Hunger Games: Catching Fire coming in two weeks, it’s likely that Ender’s Game continues its quick fade.

and the price for Digital Domain doesn’t end there:

Additionally, the company agreed to contribute visual-effects work at “cost,” without charging a markup for its services on the film. That had a value of about $10 million, which would be recouped by giving Digital Domain a share in box-office revenues, said Textor, the former CEO of Digital Domain Media Group.

I’m all for studios sharing the profits with VFX companies but this has set a dangerous precedent for the industry as VFX vendors are not only asked to offer a severe discount for their services, they are also obligated to offload the risky costs:

But if it’s any consolation, at least Lionsgate only financed around 20% of that total, leaving the majority of the burden with fellow financiers Oddlott Entertainment and Digital Domain.

There seems to be this idea that co-productions will make things better for VFX facilities but what did it do for Rhythm & Hues and CafeFX?

Now all attention turns to Prime Focus which has entered into a similar deal with the production of Sin City 2. PF has invested $19M to handle all 2300 shots of the film. PF has mostly done 3D conversions for films with a share of VFX shots on some films. They’ve never taken on this much work and for all the articles and people that have said India is ready for the big leagues, now is your chance to prove the rest of us wrong.

Soldier On.

100 Responses to End Game

  1. David says:

    Having been an ex R&H person and lived thru pain I feel for DD they derserve better for a good product, but Prime F@ckus cant buy there wY to good work , it takes time.and skill, ccutting corners doesnt work

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      They are buying themselves about 20 western supes and leads that command about 600 artist in Mumbai to do 90% of the vfx work for the film. The whole facility has over a 1200 people with a 60/40 split of stereo conversion vs vfx work.

      I think we will see a gigantic hiring wave early next year when shit hits the fan.

      • John says:

        As of a month ago they were still trying to fill a lot of those supervisor positions. When I asked about start dates they said ASAP.

        With the state of things as they are, many are balking at the idea of moving to India to train our replacements. If there was a long-term opportunity that would be one thing, but all the offers are for 6-8 months gigs, at which point PF hopes that India can do it without the West.

        I too turned them down.

      • Easy says:

        Good for you John. I’ll never understand why people march themselves right on into a situation where they train their replacements. Idiots.

      • hector says:

        oh. One good exemple is Steve Wright. He is everywhere. He is training our replacements, and there are tons of teachers who are the same thing.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Hector, you are right. I do however think that the entry level stuff they can learn anywhere from Steve or fx guide PhDs. It’s not a replacement for senior artist.

  2. “…India is ready for the big leagues…”

    they’re not even close to having that level of experience and creativity. and Prime Focus’s management strategy can only make things worse.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      As stated above they are trying to buy themselves the talent. And with so many out of work they succeeded. I was in talks with them and they kept insisting on a weekly(!) flat rate based on 40 hours. No overtime…I kept firm that I don’t work without overtime and they bowed out to a cheaper supervisor😉

  3. SoWhat? says:

    Even if the film had grossed $60 million opening weekend how would that have helped VFX artists?

    • VFX Soldier says:

      Many people believe that co-productions are the path to success and better conditions for VFX artists…

      Funny because artists that worked on Enders have emailed me saying they didn’t even get a credit.

      I don’t care for credits but you would figure as a co-producer you would at least be able to get everyone who worked on the film a credit. If they can’t do that what does that say about the ability for coproductions to make things better?

      >

      • SoWhat? says:

        Seems like more “heads we win, tails you lose” to me.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        It was clear from the start DD had no say. They were “informed” when it pushed its release date. They should sit at the deciding table. I think everybody just used them for their money and great work. Sad it did not make profit but as it’s chinesenowned now it would not help the artist anyway.

      • solar cries says:

        so true…..
        I was another fallen victim of no credit after working on the show from the start for almost a year.
        It’s ridiculous, no point being a co production if we can’t even give people the credit they deserve.

      • Easy says:

        Meanwhile, the caterers and gophers will get a credit, because you know, that’s serious business.

  4. John V says:

    What are $60 million referring to? Sorry I dont understand.
    I mean, there is still The Whole World. Surely every movie of this class can easy make the money back.
    I remember that Pacific Rim was considered a failure and then the Asian Market made it a success after all.
    With broadcast, internet and dvd licenses, wouldnt a movie like this always be profitable?
    Regards, john v.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      According to Brent Lang at the Wrap the international rights were pre-sold therefore DD only gets a cut of the domestic gross.

      >

      • PreviewVet says:

        Well that’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Who would ever invest in a sci fi film based upon the domestic only? If that is true than Darwin is alive and well in the VFX Sector.

        You need to spread your risk, eggs in one basket generally is ineffective in this biz.

        Back in the day, Deluxe and Technicolor would “loan” the studios large sums of cash upfront to make movies, and the studios would pay it back by buying release prints at a higher markup than the Indies.

        Over 10-20 films the loan would get paid back. Why not that model for a VFX company? D & T never took an ownership stake, and now they own VFX companies and you still don’t see them investing.

        Lesson to be learned for any VFX executive.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Really? Wow Textor really made a stupid deal
        Then…jeez

      • John says:

        Pre-selling international distribution rights is part of the standard business model for film financing today. In many cases it is 60-70% of where the budget comes from.

        This helps explain why DD can invest $17 mil in a budget of $110 mil, but have an equity stake of 37% (according to Textor)

        (my girlfriend works in international pre-sales)

  5. Bob (another one) says:

    It doesn’t mean anything now, but I’m pretty sure that DD had a co-production deal of some kind on a movie waaaaaay back in 1998. The movie? Supernova. Bet they made bank on that shining example of the cinematic art.
    Somebody should ask Scott Ross. If it was a disaster, though, it was all his, so I’d expect smoke…

  6. LK says:

    Concerning Prime Focus, they certainly can handle the volume. Whether the film will be a financial hit or not is out of their hands. They’ve be hiring madly for the last couple of months throwing money at any foreigner who are willing to relocate and TRAIN their workforce. After that, whether they can retain their local talent is another matter. We could be seeing an exodus of Indian VFX workers after Sin City 2 flooding an already saturated market.

    • LK says:

      Just wanted to add that I believe they can do it and complete the project. It’ll probably go over their initial 19M$ but there is more attached to it than financial gain, it’s a country reputation on the line and they’ll do whatever they have to complete it.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Correct. They explicitly told me they want to be taken seriously as vfx house not just conversion house. They wNt the prestige and a seat at the Hollywood table. If it works great it sets a dangerous precedent too: you finally cannot say anymore that India is incapable of doing Hollywood level feature film vfx.

      • LK says:

        Personally, I don’t mind that India is capable of Hollywood level VFX. What I mind is the true associated cost. How can you compete against that? We’re not even talking about subsidies. It’s an entirely different level. How can you compete against a local workforce who are paid a fraction of what it should truly cost to produce VFX. If I were a young Indian graduate, I would offer to work for free in order to gain a Hollywood credit and have a shot at a better life. Even if I have to bunk for 6-12 months in a sardine box and work two jobs, I’d still do it. What’s one year when there is future potential gain. If it doesn’t work out for me, then there are 10 other guys willing to do the same and replace me when I leave.

      • hector says:

        “I would offer to work for free in order to gain a Hollywood credit and have a shot at a better life. ” Well, seems that if they manage to succeed, there will no better life, since all the movies will be made in India or China at a very low price.

      • hopium says:

        DD seem to be posting like crazy on job forums at the moment. What are they working on now, if the Ender Game sequel is up in the air? Or is it the usual routine of filling up the HR rollodex in anticipation that some lowball bidding may come off, then start hiring like mad? It actually seems the way alot of studios work now, a skeleton crew of producers picking lowball bids out of thin air, with little real idea if it will really work out if someone bites on the offer. Also, they seem to have dropped a ball by not crediting so many artists on the last production. If you are going to pursue such a business model and be relying on many of the workforce working on hopium and future dreams and putting in unpaid overtimes etc, how’s that going to work out the next time around when dreamers know they won’t even get a portfolio building credit?

      • facts says:

        dd are working on malificient, xmen and fast 7.

        As for prime focus, I will hold my judgement. I remember 15 years ago when a little shop in New Zealand with little hollywood experience was taking on Lord of the Rings. Many people laughed and said they had no chance of creating that world. Good job they failed ……..

      • VFX Soldier says:

        We’re comparing Prime Focus to weta now? Weta out the gate was making major league VFX and handling huge shows. Why has Prime Focus been around just as long and has had to wait this long and actually pay for the work to get to this point?

        Anyone betting on PF is more than welcome to buy their stock. It’s trading at an all time low and almost ran out of cash in December.

        Btw: weta has never had co-production deals… How is that possible?!

        >

      • facts says:

        Not completly comparing them but before LOTR weta had only done the frightners and nothing of the scale of LOTR. No matter what you say people scoffed at them as we are with PF. I have no idea if PF will pull it off but Weta did with what felt like a new company and pipeline at the time.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        There’s a big difference:

        Weta was able to achieve success quickly by luring the best talent. It did this by paying some of the highest rates, even higher than CA.

        PF has been around just as long and has mostly focused on overflow work and 3D conversion which is quickly drying up. Now they are trying to make the jump into VFX.

        Would you want to get in a big rig with PF in the drivers seat for the first time?

        >

      • facts says:

        and yes weta has not had co production but it is a different business model when the owner of the company is also the director so even if weta does not directly see the money, the owner in PJ does so he can push his money around to his different companies.

        I guess similar to lucas and ILM in the past.

      • Tom Atkin says:

        It is a dangerous game to ever use either Weta or ILM as a basis for comparison. Both of these were built and supported by Peter Jackson and George Lucas to service their projects. Without LOTR and now The Hobbit or Star Wars neither of these companies might exist.

        The reason both Weta and ILM became such powerhouse VFX shops is that their owners set the bar really high for performance for THEIR OWN films.

        These projects put each company on the map and placed them high a top the visual effects mountain, because neither Peter nor George were as concerned about the business model versus the demand for the highest quality work possible.

        As it turns out, both companies learned and constructed solid business models to enhance their creativity with profitability.

        Again, using these two super star companies as benchmarks is not a good idea in this case. And frankly, I am not sure Prime Focus or any others have the resources to secure and maintain the talent and culture of these two giants of creativity.

      • LAskyline says:

        And those with a long memory will remember the chaos that reigned at Weta until the regime change 6 months before delivery of Fellowship of the Rings. In 2000 it didn’t look as if they would pull off anything like the triumph that they eventually managed.

      • LAskyline says:

        “Weta was able to achieve success quickly by luring the best talent. It did this by paying some of the highest rates, even higher than CA.” and they were able to do that – are still able to do that – because of the NZ incentives. PF are attempting it by levereging their low cost base in India – there are a lot of studio executives watching the PF experiment very closely indeed.

      • facts says:

        Weta hired many talented people for LOTR but most were not established as industry leaders or the top people at other companies. THey were talented and hungry for success so all came together to help create LOTR 1. Many of those are still there and are now the leading the way. The likes of Eric Saindon, Guy Williams, Wayne Stables all noe lead that company but on rings one not many people would know those names.

        I am not saying PF have a cats chance in hell in mirroring the success of this company but disregarding them off hand at this point is frankly stupid. Who knows they could do something special as they have hired many talented people although myself I will stand back and watch at arms length.

      • Tom Atkin says:

        One final point regarding both Weta and ILM. Both companies are secure for the next five to six years as each will have three part franchises with Avatar and Star Wars to guarantee huge annual revenue which would be dream numbers for most other vfx companies to serve as the floor of their annual revenue.

        Plus, these situations permit both companies to be far more selective regarding the other projects they may undertake. They won’t just ramp up endlessly to secure and produce more work. Rather, they will add to and manage the high level of talent they already have to oversee and execute these projects. Of course, many will be added to the various skill teams required.

        And, with all due respect to the Avengers, Iron Man, Hunger Games and the other visual effects driven successful franchises…the work in the new Star Wars and Avatar films will most probably once again raise the visual effects bar higher as they have in the past.

  7. vfxmafia says:

    When Movie Studios make movies for a calendar year…they make 10 different movies. If your a schmuck VFX owner and you decide to get involved in movie making…..and you make only one movie a year…you are taking on 10 times the risk….because you are not financing 9 other projects…..

    VFX owners should stick to running VFX companies……not content.

    Enders game failed because it looked like copy of The Last Star Fighter….and the FX didn’t look like anything special.

    If your going to finance creative you have to invest in talent not flat out their rates…….

    • Tom Atkin says:

      Hey vfxmafia,

      Totally agree conceptually this is not a place for novices with dreams plus this caveat. Prime Focus and Sin City 2 along with DD and Ender’s Game also tell another side of the participation story. If and when these “opportunities” arise, chances are it will be for the more risky not proven franchises.

      It would be shocking to hear this process taking place for Hunger Games, Hobbit, Star Wars, Iron Man, Avengers or the other successful films where the studios don’t feel there is any risk per say.

      So, vfx participation will always tend to be even riskier. For sure, there may be the occasional project which does have a huge payoff for the lucky participant…but, so does the lottery…and, I am not sure which has the largest odds to be a winner.

      • vfxmafia says:

        Tom,

        I also have to add…..each movie studio has a calendar year full of about 10 movies that get green lit…(one is romantic comedy, summer blockbuster, academy award choice, etc)

        The big studios also have scripts about 10 years into the future. So for every 10 movies greenlit…a studio has about 100 more projects they have been developing or in re-writes or just waiting for the right director……

        so for every 1 movie that is greenlight a studio has 99 scripts on the shelf as back up…does anyone think a VFX studio is going to have that kind of development for scripts?

        I can agree with your point Tom….do you think with all that time and money for development….that a movie studio would give a piece of the profit sharing to a VFX studio? (especially if it was a tier one project like LOTR, Starwars, or Avatar)

        VFX owners should stick to running competitive bids…..and worrying about the times when the subsidy money stops….

      • Tom Atkin says:

        Dear vfxmafia,

        I am older now, and my perspective is even more outside of the box. That being said, what a pleasure it is to communicate with you without the anger while staying focused on the points.

        Truly, sir or madam, this makes the dialogue so much more worthwhile. And, most probably will keep me involved even longer than I imagined.

        Respectfully,

        Tom

      • vfxmafia says:

        Tom…

        I’ll send you a postcard from Vancouver……..

    • minoton says:

      Keep in mind ‘Ender’s Game’ got Thor’d in it’s second weekend. It might have done better had there not been that contender in direct competition for the same demographic audience.

      As for PF, I would not want to work for a company who treats its Indian artists basically and indentured servants. There have been many stories and posts on this site with firsthand accounts of employee mistreatment with this company. I can only imagine what the people in India might have to endure to make this thing work so PF can achieve it’s goal of being a major player in the VFX industry and taken seriously.

      In one aspect, PF got lucky with this project. It’s a match made in heaven as quality has not been Job One with Rodriguez. He hides low expectations behind “It’s a kid movie” or “It’s a cheesy grind house movie”. Sin City 2, if like the first one, is a high contrast B&W semi-cartoon. You can hide a lot of evils that stylized graphic novel look.

  8. LGrossman, Mogul says:

    Kudos to the crew in these trying times. Without pay cuts, Ender’s Game would have been 5-10% more painful for me.

    Thankfully, I’ll make it up on the next one.

    Screenplay is hotter than a Bruckheimer receptionist and with Pyongyang’s incentive program, we can’t lose.

    Stay green. #VFXSTRONG

    • Not So Keen On VFX Too Bad Mad VFX Skills Unusable Outside VFX says:

      The range you stated for the cuts you stated were off: the lowest was 5% and highest was 20% according to someone I worked with there, and the same 20% cut for another person I know who was a supe.

      • LGrossman, Mogul says:

        Are you telling me that multiple dildomain pixelnerds accepted more than a 10% pay cut?!

        More than 5-10%?!

        That means the envelopes were LIGHT!
        Nobody skims my vfx skim… NOOOBOODY!!!

        Fuck hollywood creative accounting!

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        mine was 16% for whats its worth.

      • LGrossman, Mogul says:

        #VFXCUCKOLDS

        Which of you have HOURS of work left tonight?

        Getting paid for it?

  9. EddieG says:

    Andreas stop wasting your time here and go back to work – by the way, still getting fired because of complaining on work place for no internet for you to network? Now we see where you spend your time.

    • hector says:

      hey Eddie. Lots of people like you ruined the industry. Shame.

    • Andreas Jablonka says:

      EddieG? Have I ever done you any wrong? I feel like this should be a sarcastic comment but somehow I read anger. I though we were cool, what gives?

      • Edi GZ says:

        Andreas This was not written by me. That is someone that new about the situation at 2G which they are trolling you and me. I would just Ignore the flying fuck who is hiding behind a computer to talk shit.

    • hector says:

      who’s EddieG? You have to give your real name, boy.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        Eddie guiterrez, a compositor I supervised a few years back. I thought were friends. I messages him
        On fb to find out what’s this all about.

        A company called 2D digital
        In Burbank has strange internet policies. Basically everybody but the Vfx guys have access. I made a smartass remark and the ego drive. Owner felt like I should apologize to the whole company if I wanted to finish the project. I felt this was ridiculous and chose to leave and not play kindergarten anymore.
        I felt sad for my guys having to finish their movie without their comp supe and even worse for my producer!

        My smart ass reply to a company wide email linking to a website that the Vfx guys could not open was: “must be nice being able to open websites directly in your workstation” or something like this😉

        Idk I’m not threatened by people making remarks like this. I’m outspoken and do great work. You get a boundary pusher when you
        Hire me, not a drone. I post under my real name, I’m in the Iatse la steering commitee I do my part for our industry.

        I just wish people would talk to me directly if they are having an issue rather than playing peanut gallery slandering my name.

      • Edi GZ says:

        Andreas you don’t have to explain anything on the Internet(or here) specially now that you know there are some hating trolls lurking.

    • Sandra says:

      HA ha ha.. what you said is so true Eddie! No one was willing to bring him on board, so he succumbed to TEACHING!!!!!
      Andreas , you have been told directly so many times at Studios, forums etc to stop being the condescending person you as it will not help you get hired anywhere. Sad but true, you have my sympathies big fella

      • Miodrag says:

        why so much hating? why people should stop posting on forums, blog, etc.. what’s wrong with that?
        I can understand 2D digital in terms of their policies, even in some studios where I worked we had the same for the vfx guys. it wasn’t a big deal. plus when I was leading my team people were actually producing more ( especially better quality images ) because they were distracted less, however around lunch time we had 2 hrs of web surfing.

        P.s Andreas …I wish I could teach one day, that’s one of my dream ( and cooking too ). ^_^

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        @miodrag:
        Thank you sir. It was more itonic that out if 30 or so employee only the 7 Vfx stations had no internet. Everybody else was facebooking away🙂

        Teaching is a nice change of pace for now. Gives me time to concentrate on cooking and writing my business plan.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        I’m not even gonna respond to this comment besides citing a change of careers and the job situation in Los Angeles for my move into teaching🙂

        Side note: I have contacted eddie and he did not post the above, some troll used the name of eddieG. Some people are just full of fear to use their real name but these trolls always throw the biggest stones..

      • hector says:

        Sandra. Are you the real Sandra? Seems like people are hiding behind other people’s names. Listen,”I don’t need your fuckin’ sympathy, man, I need my fucking Johnson!” – The Big Lebowski (1998) – Quotes

  10. geronimo says:

    I so wanted to post my thoughts here…but Mel Brooks had said it so much better:

    I’m tired
    Sick and tired of love
    I’ve had my fill of love
    From below and above
    Tired, tired of being admired
    Tired of love uninspired
    Let’s face it
    I’m tired

    I’ve been with 1000’s of men
    Again and again
    They promise the moon
    They always coming and going
    Going and coming
    And always too soon
    Right girls?

    I’m tired,
    Tired of playing the game
    Ain’t it a crying shame
    I’m so tired
    God dammit I’m exhausted

    Tired, tired of playing the game
    Ain’t it a crying shame
    I’m so tired

    [Soldiers:]
    She’s tired (She’s tired)
    Sick and tired of love (Give her a break)
    She’s had her fill of love (She’s not a snake)
    From bellow and above (Can’t you see she’s sick)
    Tired (She’s bushed)
    Tired of being admired (Let her alone)
    Tired of love uninspired (Get off the phone)
    She’s tired (Don’t you know she’s pooped)

    I’ve been with 1000’s of men
    Again and again
    They sing the same tune
    They start with Byron and Shelly
    And jump on your belly
    And bust your ballon
    Aye!

    Tired, tired of playing the game
    Ain’t it a freakin’ shame
    I’m so…
    Let’s face it everything below the waist is kapput!

    [Soldiers:]
    Tired!

  11. Ben .S says:

    MY $1 INFO/RANT:)

    Digital Domain is hiring for in trouble MALEFICENT. Sharing work with MPC and having to let people go cause they have burnt out all their talent on that show.
    Ender’s Game: common they survived a tight budget and got made as they were bankrupt during the film being shot and you can see it the film where the money has gone in story telling and where it speeds up because THERE WAS NO MONEY! if you guys made it to the VES screening the director himself talks about it. We all knew that it may not do well, but would look GREAT because DD Vancouver and Venice had some great talent working on it.
    DD Venice is soon to be NO MORE as they moving supervisors up to Vancouver for “6 months” ONLY (Which is complete BS). They are hiring in a frenzy to have people finish Maleficent and of course have a skeleton crew work on Fast and Furious 7. Digital Domain’s nemesis Jack The Giant Slayer directed by Brian Singer has returned back to them in disguise in the form of a stereo show X-Men Days of the Future Past. Digital Domain has been having trouble keeping people because they still have their artists on “pay -cuts” from over a year ago( The smart ones moved on) 80 % of the artists at Digital Domain are unhappy, all old timers have left DD Venice. DD has a HORRIBLY managed HR and a bunch of dinosaurs still “trying” to run the Vancouver facility. They have lost three Head of Studio- Vancouver in the past 3 years. Anybody know why Ed Ulbrich (CEO) QUIT? because he had no choice at all!

    PFL (Prime Focus Limited) I am not sure about the quality or $ but that’s a IPO company.. guess what .. money is NOT a problem, we have to wait and see if the movie looks good and makes money. Vancouver is doing 300 shots out of the 2400 shots. The rest are split up between India and the rest of the companies. I am sure at the end it will look good or at least better in terms of trying to compete. They do have all the right people in place to get the job done, now it’s a waiting result at the summer box office.Worrying about India is not going to solve our problems here!

    SPI Sony Pictures ImageWorks
    SPI has been struggling just llike Digital Domain, why hasn’t nobody wondered why SPI is concentrating more on SPA (Sony Pictures Animation) trying to develop and release films like SMURFS 1-2 Cloudy 1-2, Popeye, Angry Birds which are in production as of now.
    They are having a nightmare trying to finish Spiderman AGAIN for two reasons, incompetent HR recruiting cheap inexperienced artists on a BIG show, second reason being SPI has been loosing money for 5 years now and is on the verge of Oh OH.. The current show they are wrapping in a couple of weeks is called “All you need is Kill” AKA EDGE OF TOMORROW. SPI had to actually BUY this show ,underbid everyone in the market to be able to prove that SPI was still a runner in the Big Budget VFX Game.After horrible looking OZ Corporate didn’t have a choice but to keep it afloat. Again SPI still have Dinosaurs running the facility and Vancouver facility is in a state of PITY. SPI is trying very hard to stay afloat with their 3D films and the future productions in the pipe like Alice 2 etc. I am glad they are still running and corporate seems to pour money in when they are low on it! My opinion is SPI needs to get rid of the people higher up as they are not helping the business at all.

    ILM (Industrial Light and Magic)

    Well, Disney as usual is not really worried about anything as they have a extremely cheap studio in Vancouver Facility which basically run remotely. The talent there is more of a FAN BASE talent, ILM has so much work for the next three years to be done in Vancouver (BID AS VANCOUVER SHOWS) but they refuse to hire most Americans up there now. In pipe, War of Warcraft, TMNT Transformers: Age of Extinction, Star Wars: Episode VII, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Jurrasic Park etc. Looking forward to them actually move into that recently abandoned Pixar Facility as their current facility is actually a shut down, run down PORN studio aka the old BC Hydro building in Crack Town part of Vancouver East Side. But guess what? they still find FAN BOY artist to go and work for them. I am not sure why I wanted to give out all this information, I use to be an artist and now a producer.

    I feel everyone’s pain on here, I am at least some of you guys are not working for Moving Picture Company!

    • Tina Merry says:

      Thanks for all that info! It looks like you were typing in a hurry and on a phone? Lol

    • hopium says:

      @Ben S.
      “PFL (Prime Focus Limited) I am not sure about the quality or $ but that’s a IPO company.. guess what .. money is NOT a problem, we have to wait and see if the movie looks good and makes money.”

      Wow! I’ve seen some naivety in my time but IPO = Unlimited $.
      ?!??!?!

      You mean like that other great IPO example, erm …. Digital Domain Media Group. Who went back to the market just before the end and were told to go spin by investors. IPO makes a company MORE vunnerable to finance in many ways. Because you’re figures and boasts are open for scrutiny by thousands and thoudans of anaylists who are getting paid to tell investors what they think of the company accounts and statements. And not to mention the infamous background of the finance holding company who pack PF. Have a little look into that for yourself. They are still under investigation in the US for their involvement in security backed mortgage bond fraud.

      IPO is the fashionable wall street scam of the moment. You see every IPO recently? Facebook, twitter, so on. Massive inital jump in share price where particular wall street insiders with super power computing and lightning speed trading systems can out-arbitrage mortal investors and make a day one killing. Then the share prices fall back and the initial hype recedes. Ever thought it weird how a positive, glamarous hollywood movie of Facebook’s rise was released on the run up to the IPO?

      That’s my suspicion with PF (and a few others). It’s a well trodden road of outsourcing industry to the East as a means to reduce costs and open a new market of unlimited new growth. Its a compelling story to present to investors to keep going back to market for reissues. But like it was said before, PF started in a similar timespan to Weta. The difference with Weta (and ILM) was that you had insanely passionate film makers and industry folk almost willing success. Important in the early days. Hard nose IPO investors are fair weather. Lucas and Jackson spent their time dreaming about a next level of film making, mantal images of cinematic creation driving them on during the hard times. I get the impression that isn’t the case with PF backers or IPO investors. There more likely dremaing about mutli-million dollar mcMansions and lambourghinis as the primamry motivation. Its an entirely different mindset.

      Wall Street and its IPO is in full swing in the VFX industry since DDMG and PF is going to be the next compelling story presented for markets. Despite them never kicking on in all this time and skirting with financial disasters in various worldwide operations in the inbetween.

      The odd thing though for PF is why have they never just shown their mettle within the home bollywood industry? Surley quality is quality, if you bowl over a massive home industry consumer, everything else will follow. Why is the Western Market the sole target? Well, that has just been discussed. They are intimately tied up in Wall Street financial markets and western outsourcing, first amd foremost.

      • Ben .S says:

        When I said Unlimited $$ I am not sure if you know how the Asian markets work? HK exchange, UK exchange?.I agree with what you’re saying, but I have been Asian IPO market for 15 years, I am still going to stick to MONEY is not a problem for PFL. Just like all ‘I’ predictions from Soldier, ‘we’ will have to wait and see the rise and fall wave around the world. I’ve always said this and will continue to “VFX is a business tool used to manipulate the balance sheet as and when needed” (with no consideration of art or artists)

    • LosingHope says:

      Loving the knowledge and insight dropped in this post Ben…Please post more often.

  12. Mad, Bad and Dangerous To Know says:

    “MY $1 INFO/RANT:)”

    That was more like $1.98 worth of info, but without Rip Taylor.

    BTW, I checked out “Ender’s Game” last night.Two people in the entire theater and “no one buying Imax” according to the manager.
    Feels really bad.

  13. sartu says:

    Ben , what about Framestore?

    • hector says:

      Since they run for an Oscar, and chances are they will win, you might hear the theme from “Jaws” again.

    • Ben .S says:

      They are still struggling to be back in the game! hopefully RoboCop is a game changer for them.

      • LAskyline says:

        FS are “struggling to be back in the game”? And Robo Cop will be “a game changer”? Are you for real?

      • Ben.S says:

        The only reason Frame Store got awarded the “entire” show Robocop is because Digital Domain went bankrupt. DD was the main house on that show after RealSteal. DD had a crew on set and was doing tests even before FS or any other studio was in the ‘picture’. I only say this not to offend anyone or to prove right or wrong. All due respect to the regulars and TROLLS, I was directly involved with that production. FS hasn’t done a entire VFX heavy “A – film” in along time and is what I meant. Hence the term, “game changer”. The Projects FS bids on is mostly won by Weta, DD, embassy, Image Engine. FS has been working off the London/NYC commercial market for quite some time. The recent company branching in Montreal and NYC in the past few years is due to work load shared on commericials division. Again, I am not proving anyone wrong or right just sharing info that NO ONE will, as I am not tied down by any of the above.

      • LAskyline says:

        “FS hasn’t done a entire VFX heavy “A – film” in along time”. Yes, you’re entirely right. What was I thinking? Gravity was shot entirely on location in space, without any VFX. All they did was clean up the camera crews.

      • Tim says:

        @LAskyline.. I think Ben S is try to give an over all picture and of course can speak with authoritative info pertaining a opinion towards limited information. People like you make all vfx artists look bad, you should have finished school when you had a chance, I am sure your brain would have grasped things in a much mature way!

        @Ben.S thank you sir for info and insight! Apologies on behalf of the few fickle minded, immature people, who have zero contribution to anything but bickering. I hope to get some more insight on things from you and some great members on here.

        P.S Gravity started it’s inception early on but had a lot of vfx challenges, story driven visual effects, re-writes/shoots, etc. This was OUR biggest show as compared to RoboCop. Both shows had similar time frames but one got pushed early than the other. I hope this explains a little bit more on what the UK scene is all about!

  14. Scott Ross says:

    To own content is the name of the game. DD did not own, nor create, nor even develop ENDERS GAME. DD bought its way in by both writing a check for millions and doing VFX work with no mark up ( worth millions)… all told DD made a HUGE investment in a property that they didn’t own, didn’t produce, didn’t market and didn’t have a piece that was equal to their investment. Bad business on the part of Mr. Textor… naive and shortsighted.

    • Ben .S says:

      That’s perfectly described Scott! Domain has no choice but to bring on Asian films on board to survive. Which I am totally fine with as it will keep 500 artists employed. ON the other hand the only person who benefited by all of this is Orson Scott Card, he made a ton of money on EG AGAIN! His book was the #1 selling novel again, the script was optioned with a very sweet deal!

  15. Scott Ross says:

    Harrison did pretty well too.

  16. sartu says:

    Ben S. you have no idea what your a talking about!..’.robocop game changer.’..lmao!

    Most idiot thing i’ve heard on the site.

  17. Ben S. Lacks omniscience. says:

    I can also say that He is “exactly” wrong about SPI Vancouver hiring a bunch of cheap inexperienced labour for Spidey 2. Quite the opposite.. Junior artists were laid of en masse, leaving a condensed group of seniors, leads and supes to work on it.. Largely “overqualified” if anything, given the nature of much of the work.

    So.. Methinks mr. Ben’s enthusiastically-distributed “facts” may be taken with a pinch of salt..😉

    • EX- SPI says:

      not really bro… thats only when shit hits the fan towards the end.. speak to Craig, Bob.. they know what the deal is..

  18. rani says:

    Ben S. please do not make stories up. FS have many projects, including Edge of Tommorow, Guardians, RoboCop, Jupiter, Dracula and all of Paddington. All this before Gravity hit the screens. So getting ‘back in the game’ is a dumb comment.

  19. […] The Digital Domain story just continues to get weirder and weirder. As you know after the company went through bankruptcy, it was bought by China’s Galloping Horse and India’s Reliance Mediaworks. Last summer, Galloping Horse abruptly sold it’s stake to a mysterious holding company called Sun Innovations. Shortly after, Digital Domain’s co-production Enders Game was released with very disappointing box office numbers. […]

  20. […] in VFX believe co-productions are the answer but as I pointed out, it was very expensive for Digital Domain. Digital Domain minority stakeholder India’s Reliance Mediaworks also suffered massive […]

  21. […] So much news about Prime Focus, so little time! I have yet to post my thoughts on the Double Negative purchase which I hope to do at some point. Last year I posted about Digital Domain investing about $18 million for an equity stake in Enders Game which opened with $27M and ended with $61M domestically. […]

  22. john says:

    Priya’s hair is getting so long!

  23. Wonderful post! We are linking to this great post on our website.

    Keep up the good writing.

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