Digital Domain lawsuit to begin

Former president filed wrongful termination suit

Digital Domain, the Venice, Calif.-based visual effects shop that won the Oscar earlier this year for its work on Paramount’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” is scheduled to be in court Wednesday for opening arguments in a wrongful termination suit by the company’s former prexy, Christian Bradley “Brad” Call.

Call alleges the company pressured him to falsify the company’s financials to attract investors.

DD has countersued Call, charging breach of fiduciary duty. Company alleges that Call poisoned other employees’ attitudes about the company and encouraged some to seek larger compensation packages.

Digital Domain has a large outstanding loan from Falcon Partners and has been owned since May 2006 by Wyndcrest Partners, an investment group that includes helmer Michael Bay. Call was terminated in August of that year.

While the financial picture for the entire vfx industry is gloomy, DD’s finances are more exposed than most, having filed SEC disclosures in preparation for a hoped-for IPO.

The documents reveal that the company, founded in 1993 by Scott Ross, helmer James Cameron and creature wiz Stan Winston, has never turned a profit despite having a thriving commercials division for much of its existence to supplement its feature work. (Cameron and Winston cut ties to Digital Domain in 1998.)

DD management declined to comment on the pending lawsuit, but CEO Cliff Plumer told Daily Variety that the SEC filing is out of date.

“We have conducted a significant amount of business, and our financial picture has changed significantly since our filing,” said Plumer.

Call’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment on the suits.

Company recently delivered more than 100 shots on “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” and its slate includes “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,” “2012,” Disney’s “Tron” and other tentpoles.

Since studios commonly examine a visual effects company’s books before awarding large vfx contracts, Digital Domain management points to those projects as an endorsement of its current financial situation.