Hercules Dwayne Johnson

Updated 9:00 a.m. PDTPrime Focus World and Double Negative have agreed to merge in a deal that represents a major shakeup at the top of the visual effects business.

The combined entity will be the world’s largest provider of visual effects, animation and 3D conversion services. It will have the Double Negative name, and be led by DNeg managing director Alex Hope and CEO Matthew Holben. “We’ve made it clear from our side: You guys run visual effects, we’ll run 3D conversion and animation,” Prime Focus founder and CEO Namit Malhotra told Variety.

Prime Focus will hold 80% to 85% of shares following merger, Malhotra said in a TV interview today. Hope and Holben will run be members of the new company’s board, with Malhotra as board chairman.

Said Malhotra, “We have ceded control to them. They’ve embarked on a strategy to take Double Negative global. That means: They’ve got to have Canada, they’ve got to have China, they’ve got to have India, and they will make sure the Double Negative gold standard of service is inducted into those locations.”

London-based Double Negative is one of the world’s top vfx studios. Christopher Nolan routinely brings his pictures there and the company won an Oscar for his “Inception.” His next picture, “Interstellar,” is in production there now. The company has also announced a feature animation division.

Hope said that Double Negative and Prime Focus have been partnering “on and off” for the past three years, beginning with “Total Recall.” The two companies worked together on the upcoming “Hercules” (pictured).

Prime Focus World is the creative services branch of Indian company Prime Focus. PFW has branches in Los Angeles, Vancouver, New York, London, Dubai, Mumbai and China. and provides vfx, animation and 3D conversion.

Malhotra told Variety this merger will not simply mean that PFW’s branches will be re-branded with the Double Negative name. Hope and Holben will have free reign to look at PFW’s existing visual effects technology and infrastructure and choose what to keep, said Malhotra. PFW’s London location will exit the vfx business and focus entirely on 3D conversion and animation. Malhotra said that as a result of the merger, he expects Double Negative to grow and add jobs.

While it is a large and established company, Prime Focus has been considered a second-tier vfx studio and has long sought to buy its way  into the first rank of visual effects studios; it was a bidder for Rhythm & Hues Studios as that company came out of bankruptcy, and previously pursued Digital Domain when that company was bankrupt and for sale. This merger finally gives Prime Focus the top-flight vfx talent and brand it has long desired.

“We’ve been looking on the visual effects side to add alignment,” said Malhotra, “because in an already crowded market, it’s certainly critical to have a company that has the credibility, the technology and infrastructure to take it to the next step. Double Negative has that talent and quality of work.”

 

 

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