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Did Former Digital Domain CEO Dish on Bad “Iron Man 3” Deal?

Over the weekend I heard from blogger “VFX Soldier” asking if this comment on his post regarding the visual effects demonstrations held the Sunday the Oscars were held might be from former Digital Domain Media Group CEO John Textor. I think it is.

The post is signed “John” and includes a number of things Textor has said to me and others in public, especially his feeling that the future of the vfx industry in the U.S. really rests on about 15 people: the top directors, producers and studio execs.

But this passage about Marvel’s Victoria Alonso and Marvel’s deal with DD on “Iron Man 3” is what got Soldier’s attention, and ours:

In the meantime, tell the people that don’t really matter to be quiet. We don’t need their excuses and we don’t need their faux pity. They are the mid-level studio folks that seem powerful as they award work, but ultimately have nothing to do with our future as an industry. When Victoria puts out the word to other studios that they should step up and support DD (or the next guy), ask her to do the same. She shoved a 14% gross margin down the throat of DD on IM-3 that is not enough to even cover the light bill…and she has the gumption to challenge other studios to step-up and help. Victoria, just send DD a bonus to cover the coffee machine in the break room, then you can get on your soap box…until then, you are no different than every other studio person that starts the bidding conversation with a dishonest story of how the third sequel of a massive property just doesn’t have the profit margin available to allow the artists to eat. (“…but, don’t worry, I’ll take care of you next time”). Really, a 14% gross margin? That’s exactly the kind of help that leaves an Oscar winning VFX house begging the bankruptcy court for a life-line.

Textor has said something similar to me. So the author of this comment is either John Textor or someone else privy to the same information as John Textor, who has the same opinions as John Textor, and chose the name “John.”

It’s worth reading the comment in full. Textor’s name is mud in the vfx world after DDMG’s bankruptcy and the recriminations that followed, but he offers a rare perspective: that of someone who’s actually had to negotiate deals with the major studios and live with the consequences. And he points the finger squarely at the majors for the problems besetting the vfx biz.

Also: Empire Online has this excellent interview with Scott Squires, leading vfx supervisor and a vocal supporter of vfx unionization, about what’s behind the problems of the vfx business. If you’ve been following the vfx space you probably know most of this, but if you’re wondering what the fuss is about, the interview is a must-read.

And Variety’s Gordon Cox reports from today’s “Life of Pi” Blu-ray event in New York, where vfx was a hot topic.

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