You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Fox to sell visual F/X division to R&H

$5 mil deal to create a large ani studio

20th Century Fox’s departure from the visual-effects business is under way.

The studio agreed Wednesday to sell visual f/x house VIFX to computer animation house Rhythm & Hues for about $5 million in cash, sources said. Fox paid around $8 million for the company in 1996.

Once completed March 15, the merger will create one of the largest privately owned visual f/x and animation studios in Los Angeles, with VIFX operating under the R&H banner.

VIFX is readying to move out of its Marina del Rey facility and into R&H’s headquarters in Los Angeles’ Mar Vista district.

The core management team at VIFX will remain intact, with VIFX prexy Richard Hollander serving as prexy of R&H’s feature film division. John Hughes continues to serve as prexy and CEO of R&H.

Layoffs likely

But layoffs are expected for VIFX’s 108 employees, not only because there will be an overlap of job functions, once the merger is completed, but also because R&H recently pink-slipped a number of its own staffers, Hollander said.

R&H employs nearly 250 digital artists. The combined companies will include just over 300.

“We’re walking into another infrastructure with its own overhead,” Hollander said. “We’re going to get rid of our own overhead and that will affect some people.”

Adds Hughes, “We are very committed to producing the highest quality work while providing an excellent environment for our employees. This merger brings many more talented people to Rhythm & Hues.”

Fox’s purchase of VIFX was initially tied to plans to have the f/x house produce all of the CG-animated sci-fi pic “Planet Ice.” Development changes ended up sending pic to Don Bluth’s Fox Animation Studios in Phoenix.

The VIFX sale, however, does not mark Fox’s complete departure from the f/x game. It is still retaining its Harrison, N.Y.-based Blue Sky character and computer graphics operation, which VIFX acquired in 1997. The company employs nearly 80 artists.

Fox has no plans to sell Blue Sky, sources said.

Fox’s retreat reflects similar action taken by Warner Bros., when it shuttered its inhouse Warner Digital f/x division in 1997, a year after opening it.

Unusual relationship

Although Fox owned VIFX, the relationship between the two companies was unusual when compared with deals between studios and their own inhouse operations such as Disney’s DreamQuest Images, Sony Picture Imageworks and DreamWorks’ Pacific Data Images, which are assigned most of the studio’s f/x-driven pics.

VIFX said it didn’t want to be dependent on the studio for work.

“Our relationship with the studio was at arm’s length,” Hollander said. “We bid on projects like everyone else. The studio didn’t have too many effects films in the works and we didn’t want to be dependent on that.”

Deal, which enables VIFX to attract larger f/x pics, also marks the second f/x house acquisition to take place in just weeks, after San Francisco-based Manex acquired CFC-LA from U.K.-based post production house Megalomedia plc.

“We were too small to handle the kind of larger effects pics we wanted to do,” Hollander said. “There’s a lot of work coming and we needed to be bigger to bid for those projects.”

VIFX recently landed U’s f/x-heavy “End of Days.” Its past credits include f/x for Par’s “Star Trek: Insurrection,” New Line’s “Blade” and Fox’s “The X-Files.”

R&H created f/x for U’s two “Babe” pics and Warner’s “Soldier,” and is creating visuals for U’s upcoming “Mystery Men,” “The Flintstones: Viva Rock Vegas” and Warner’s “The Green Mile.”

More Digital

  • Murder Mystery

    Netflix Reveals Record-Breaking Stats for Sandler-Aniston 'Murder Mystery' Flick

    “Murder Mystery,” the latest Adam Sandler film to debut on Netflix, broke viewing records on the streaming service, the company revealed Tuesday. The film, which is co-headlined by Jennifer Aniston, was seen by close to 30.9 million households in its first 3 days, according to a tweet sent out Tuesday afternoon. 🚨ADAM SANDLER AND JENNIFER [...]

  • Charles Caldas To Step Down as

    Charles Caldas To Step Down as Merlin CEO

    Charles Caldas, the only CEO that the independent-label collective Merlin has ever known, announced today that he will step down from his post at the end of 2019, after more than 12 years at the helm of the global rights organization. He will continue his current duties until then and work with the Merlin board to [...]

  • Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic

    Vice Media Digital Makeover Triggers Traffic Slide

    Life on its own online isn’t easy for Vice Media. Ending the digital publisher’s controversial practice of rolling up web traffic for partner sites into an aggregated number resulted in the total domestic traffic falling nearly by half between March 2019 and the following month, according to Comscore. The numbers improved slightly for May, when [...]

  • Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Merlin Reports Record Distributions for 2019

    Global indie-label collective Merlin reported record distributions in its 2019 membership report, paying $845 million to label and distributor members between April 2018 and March of this year. That figure, a 63% year-over-year increase, includes more than $130 million paid out this year from non-royalty income — and included in that figure is the estimated [...]

  • Sarah Iooss - Twitch

    Twitch Hires Sarah Iooss, Former Mic and Viacom Exec, as Head of North America Sales

    Twitch has tapped Sarah Iooss, most recently EVP of revenue at millennial-news startup Mic, to lead the advertising sales team in North America for the Amazon-owned live-streaming video platform focused on video gaming. Iooss will be based in New York, reporting to chief revenue officer Walker Jacobs, who joined Twitch last fall after serving as [...]

  • Calibra app

    Spotify: Facebook's Libra Cryptocurrency Will Help Subscription Services

    When Facebook officially announced its plans for a new cryptocurrency called Libra Tuesday, it also revealed that Spotify was part of a consortium of companies called the Libra Association that is backing the project. The music service hopes that digital money can help subscription services sign up new customers. “One challenge for Spotify and its [...]

  • And Then We Danced

    Swedish Outfit French Quarter Steps Into TV With Graphic Novel Adaptation

    Swedish production company French Quarter, the outfit behind Cannes Directors’ Fortnight entry “And Then We Danced,” is venturing into TV with a web series adapted from Henrik Bromander’s graphic novel “Kurs I självutplåning” (“Course in self-annihilation”). The comedy series has been commissioned by the Swedish broadcaster SVT, as first reported by Nordic Film & TV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content