Chinese and Indian Companies to Buy Digital Domain for $30.2 Million in Joint Venture
The Deal, Subject to Approval in Court, Gives Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co. 70% Ownership and Mumbai's Reliance MediaWorks a 30% Share
The assets of the beleaguered Digital Domain VFX and animation company, dissolved in bankruptcy court following its Chapter 11 filing on September 11, will be jointly purchased by Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co., Ltd. and Reliance MediaWorks. The two companies confirmed the deal, subject to approval in bankruptcy court, in a statement issued Sunday evening.
Once the deal is approved during a hearing on Monday, Beijing Galloping Horse Film Co. will own 70% of Digital Domain and Reliance MediaWorks will own a 30% share of the new company. "Digital Domain is a legend in the industry, known for its world-class quality of work and creative talent," said Ivy Zhong, vice chairman and managing director of Beijing Galloping Horse Film, in a prepared statement. Reliance MediaWorks's CEO Venkatesh Roddam was equally eager to sing the company's praises in the official announcement of the sale, citing the "wonderful working relationship with Digital Domain over the years. We could not be happier to take it further."
Galloping Horse Film had previously signed on to co-produce The Legend of Tembo, what was to have been the first animated feature out of Digital Domain Media's Tradition Studios in Port St. Lucie, Florida. The film has not been completed and the details of its fate, although not part of the bankruptcy sale, are unclear at this time.
Reliance MediaWorks, based in Mumbai, is part of the Reliance ADA Group, a multibillion-dollar Indian conglomerate with businesses across the Telecom, Capital, Power, Infrastructure, Health and Entertainment sectors. In 2010, Reliance Entertainment purchased the venerable digital restoration facility formerly known as Lowry Digital. But some of its subsidiaries have not always acted in the best interests of the production and post communities. Earlier this year, Reliance Entertainment subsidiary Reliance Communications mysteriously blocked customer access within India to Vimeo, allegedly a result of India's Department of Telecommunications rules against openly shared user-generated video.
Digital Domain's legal troubles also continue to mount. On Thursday, investors filed a class action lawsuit against Digital Domain alleging former CEO John Textor and other top executives misled them about the company's ability to meet payroll and regular operation expenses.
Today, downsized Digital Domain employees living near the closed Port St. Lucie facility staged a massive tag sale in the city's Civic Center to raise funds for their imminent westward migration to Los Angeles and Vancouver, where most of the VFX and animation jobs remain. The area's CBS affiliate ran this news story about the sale, claiming the recently laid off employees had also filed a class action suit against their former employer in an effort to reclaim basic severance packages and banked vacation time denied them at termination.