Sin Equity 2

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.

I also signaled a potential sequel where Prime Focus would invest about $19M for a stake in Sin City 2 and the result doesn’t look good. ‘Sin City 2’ Distributor: ‘It’s Like The Ice Bucket Challenge Without The Good Cause’:

Sin City 2 didn’t even crack the top five at the box office over the weekend. The film opened in the number eight slot with $6.4 million. Other new releases that opened with it included the football drama When the Game Stands Tall and the Chloe Grace Moretz feature If I Stay. Those films opened respectively at number five with $9 million and number three with $16.8 million.

Of course this has continued to be the story for most VFX facilities that try to take an equity stake (Rhythm: Yogi Bear, Dneg: Rush) in a film. I doubt studios would offer a VFX facility an equity stake if they were confident the film was going to do gangbusters but that’s just me

Soldier On.




29 Responses to Sin Equity 2

  1. $bigg sexxy$ says:


  2. Rob says:

    Rush didn’t seem to do that bad? Yes, it “just” made ~140% more than the production budget was. But even if the advertising budget was as high as the production budget, there’s still a profit of 10-15M $? Profit, not loss.

    • Adrian says:

      Where are you getting the 140% from Rob? Box office mojo says it made 90.2 million worldwide, if that’s where your numbers are from i *think* in particular worldwide box office figures are gross ticket sales, of which the production would only see a percentage of, (I’ve heard 50%?) and generally from what I understand a smaller percentage from foreign markets of which the lion’s share of Rush’s ticket sales came from?

      • Rob says:

        Exactly. 90M worldwide, 38M budget => 90/38 = 2.36 = 236%. That -100% ~ 140%.

        But if it is true that the production only gets half of it, it’s of course quite different. Then again – how do the advertising costs fit in? Because if they get half AND you still have to subtract advertising – well, then it’s quite possible that it was a loss. Although I wonder whether Rush’s advertising budget was that big anyway.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        The usual rule of thumb for a studio is marketing costs are about the same size as your movie budget. A studio can expect to get 50% of the US domestic box office and 25% of foreign.

        Not sure what Dneg’s deal was but in DD’s case they only had equity in the US domestic box office, not foreign.

  3. Whoa says:

    If it were a matter of only being offered the riskiest of productions, then sure. Although no one knows for sure in the beginning how a film will turn out and be received in the end. I think smurfs bringing in over 500 mil was quite a surprise.

    If however it were a matter of a standard held by a trade organization, the fx houses would be playing the same odds as the studios.

    Predicting one or two successful films is far more difficult than predicting the overall net profit of several. People have appetites for the theaters. For many it’s just a matter of choosing whatever film seems to have turned out better than the rest.

  4. contessa12 says:

    The odds for success are at best 50/50! I think that would be the same odds at the roulette wheel in Vegas–black or red?

    • Whoa says:

      I don’t think it’s even that high. But it doesn’t need to be. When you have a stake in enough major films, one of them is bound to bring home enough bacon to stay profitable. Gambling on one risky film here and there will eventually kill a company with small margins.

  5. Truth says:

    Digital Domain did have a stake in Titanic. Worked out pretty well.

    • matteobject says:

      That’s more a case of the guys making Titanic also being the owners of the VFX house contracted to do the work.

      I did hear that Animal Logic may have got a piece of the back end of The Lego Movie, but if so, that’s the exception and not the rule, plus, depending on how the deal was worded it wouldn’t surprise me if they get screwed on it.

      The simple fact remains that the only deals on offer are the particularly risky ones. Movie studios have the capital to weather a couple of bad moves, whereas FX houses do not, it becomes a case of a degenerate gambler borrowing money to gamble on long shots in the hope of covering his existing debt.

      VFX houses need to be paid for their work, as it is, we’re almost a charity, subsidizing bad ideas by the studios by underbidding each other to do work at a loss.

      • Truth says:

        Don’t disagree with you. But just to set the record straight, the deal for Titanic was struck with Fox. Lightstorm (Cameron) was raking DD over the coals and trying to get DD to add more shots and not get paid. They ended up with a cost plus scheme with a weekly true-up and back end points.s
        The problem with VFX today is that it has been commoditized by the studios and it’s a race to the bottom. The only solution is some type of organization which attracts the artists and is willing to halt production, if necessary. Studios will react when their schedules are threatened. You need to fight muscle with muscle.

      • matteobject says:

        Totally agree with that, the studios will continue to abuse VFX as long as we sit and take it.

      • jona says:


        It has always been ‘commoditized’. In the 80’s we used to complain about endless change orders eating away at the minimal profits. If you had a disagreement with a studio they simply pulled the shots and went elsewhere. Now that the process is mostly digital there are more places for them to go. In reality, nothing has changed. The only reason it appeared that VFX houses had more leverage is because we were using optical printers and tech that few people had or could re-create. Not the case now. But the story hasn’t changed.

    • DD Titanic
      ILM Cocoon, ET, Rango
      Animal Logic Lego

      sometimes it works, sometimes it don’t
      sometimes the deal structure makes a diff
      sometimes the juice is what matters

      How about cost plus a fixed mark up AND pts on success?

  6. Andreas jablonka says:

    It is interesting to note that the Vfx are actually not bad and NOT the reason the movie failed. I expected it to be shady Indian Vfx as PF wanted to do 85-90% in Mumbai.
    I heard a lot was redone in Vancouver and Singapore…

    • matteobject says:

      As I heard it, all the heavy lifting was done in Vancouver, particularly the actual fx work as opposed to the cc/roto stuff that made up the bulk of the shots.

      Of course, most of the PFW FX guys in Vancouver are now expecting to be laid off since PW bought DNeg who will be handling the FX side of things from now on.

      • Catholic says:

        Hey Andreas, you keep hearing lot of unwanted Infos !
        Get some good air.

      • matteobject says:

        Pretty sure you responded to the wrong post there.

      • Andreas Jablonka says:


        unwanted is different than untrue right? cannot help you that you did not want to hear the truth. While I dont know the exact number of shots redone in vancouver a lot was fixed. No air needed thank you.
        Come to terms with reality please.

  7. yippie! says:

    HAHAH Ben is awesome.

  8. Spectacular overcom! I wish to newbie all the while you actually fix your site, how could i sign up for the website internet site? This account reduced the problem some sort of appropriate option. I am small amount recognizable in this your current transmitted supplied intense crystal clear principle

  9. animcoop says:

    I guess a good rule of thumb might be: don’t make idiotic investments in films that everyone at your company can confidently tell you is going to flop.

    The greatest fault of the ownership class is its well-trained ability to regard itself as a superior, unchallenged intellect that would never degrade itself by considering the solicitation of the good sense of its inferior worker class; lest it be required to share some of the glory or spoils with the peasants it employs.

  10. Steve says:

    “I doubt studios would offer a VFX facility an equity stake if they were confident the film was going to do gangbusters but that’s just me.”

    Yes, it is just you. Your knowledge of film financing appears to be non-existent.

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