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Digital Domain partners with India's Reliance MediaWorks

Digital Domain, a visual effects house in Venice, will manage postproduction studios that Reliance plans to open in London and Mumbai.

July 13, 2011|Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times
  • Reliance MediaWorks' new partner Digital Domain Productions Inc. handled visual effects work for Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Reliance MediaWorks' new partner Digital Domain Productions Inc.… (Paramount Pictures )

Hollywood is becoming even more reliant on one of India's biggest media companies.

Reliance MediaWorks, a division of Indian conglomerate Reliance ADA Group, said late Monday that it has partnered with the Venice visual effects house Digital Domain Productions Inc. to open studios in London and Mumbai, underscoring the increasingly global nature of California's visual effects industry.

The new studios will provide a variety of postproduction services for movies, TV shows and commercials. The facilities will be owned by Reliance, which has existing postproduction facilities in London and Mumbai, and managed by Digital Domain, which recently handled visual effects work for "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" and "Thor." Financial terms were not disclosed.

The deal marks the latest entertainment industry investment by Reliance, which operates a chain of Indian theaters in the U.S. called Big Cinemas, and an image processing center in Burbank, Lowry Digital, a film restoration business it acquired in 2008.

Reliance provided half the funding for Steven Spielberg's newly independent DreamWorks Studios after it split from parent Paramount Pictures. The company also has business partnerships with production companies run by such high-profile industry figures as Tom Hanks, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and partners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. In June, former Universal Pictures co-Chairman David Linde announced that his new independent film finance and production company would be backed by Reliance Entertainment.

The partnership will give Digital Domain, founded in 1993 by director James Cameron and other investors, its first venture into India, where rivals such as Technicolor and Rhythm & Hues already have operations to take advantage of substantially lower labor costs there. Britain, which has a strong film tax credit, has lured a number of big movies in recent years and become a major hub for visual effects. Such competition has squeezed small to midsize California visual effects companies, several of which have gone out of business in recent years.

"Filmmaking has become a global enterprise," said Cliff Plumer, chief executive of Digital Domain Productions. "A partnership with Reliance MediaWorks will allow our clients to realize the benefits of a digital production pipeline that makes efficient use of resources and talent located around the world."

Digital Domain also has a visual effects studio in Vancouver, Canada, and has been expanding its 3-D conversion business. Last year, it acquired In-Three Inc. in Westlake Village and moved most workers to Florida. Its Florida parent company, Digital Domain Media Group Inc., recently announced plans to raise as much as $115 million in an initial public stock offering this summer.

richard.verrier@latimes.com

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