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Qualcomm Boss Backs Digital Domain as VFX Firm Heads to Wanda Qingdao

Paul E. Jacobs, executive chairman of semiconductor giant Qualcomm, is to invest in Digital Domain Holdings, the parent company of storied digital effects creator Digital Domain 3.0 and a growing collection of virtual reality businesses.

Digital Domain 3.0 also signed a deal to establish a motion capture stage at the new Wanda Studios Qingdao. The stage will be Digital Domain’s first stage outside the U.S.

Jacobs is investing US$5 million (HK$38.5 million) in the Hong Kong-listed DDH through his private Paul E. Jacobs Trust. He is subscribing for an issue of new shares representing 0.6% of the company’s equity.

The proceeds “are intended to be applied towards media entertainment segment and as general working capital purposes of the group,” DDH said in a filing. The issue of shares to Jacobs is DDH’s fifth fund-raising exercise since December 2015.

The group is currently loss-making and recently issued a warning that it will lose more as a result of its virtual reality acquisitions drive. “The loss for the interim period is expected to increase significantly as compared with the prior period (January-June 2015),” it said in a regulatory filing to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Losses for the 2015 calendar year were $23 million. The deficit between January and June this year was later reported as $22.3 million.

“The stage will offer services on digital imaging production and technical support for digital imaging in movie production. With the new motion capture stage, the company will be able to replicate its top-notch technology to Greater China region, infusing new elements and technology to movie shooting in the future,” DDH said.

The company was not able to confirm the scale of its investment in the stage. Nor could it say when the facility would be operational.

At an event in Los Angeles, Wanda this week pulled back the curtains on the massive Qingdao complex. About half of its planned 30 stages are now functioning and the whole establishment is expected to be open by 2018. As part of its opening towards Hollywood, Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin announced that the WSQ will be complemented by a generous 40% rebate scheme on qualifying production spend.

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