Monday, September 24th, 2012 Posted by Jim Thacker

Digital Domain sold to joint Chinese-Indian venture

Reliance MediaWorks’ VFX reel. The Mumbai-based company has signed a deal to become minority stake holder in Digital Domain Media Group, with China’s Galloping Horse Film Co. acquiring the majority holding.

Chinese firm Galloping Horse America has partnered India’s Reliance MediaWorks to buy Digital Domain.

The companies submitted a bid to acquire the leading VFX studio, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two weeks ago, for $30.2 million.

Private investment firm Searchlight Capital Partners previously made a ‘stalking horse’ bid of $15 million.

Business as usual?
If the deal – which is subject to court approval – goes through, Galloping Horse and Reliance will acquire Digital Domain’s LA and Vancouver studios, along with Digital Domain Media Group’s other assets.

According to the press statement: “The [studios] will continue to operate in the normal course of business.”

“This is a great day for Digital Domain,” said CEO Ed Ulbrich. “Our new partners have incredible strength and reach in the global entertainment marketplace. We … couldn’t be more pleased with this outcome.”

Digital Domain’s new owners
If the deal is approved, Galloping Horse America – a division of Beijing-based Galloping Horse Film Co. – will take a 70% stake in Digital Domain.

The company works in a number of fields, including film and TV financing, production and distribution; cinema construction; new media and animated content production; talent management; and magazine publishing.

Reliance MediaWorks, which takes the remaining 30% stake, has a similarly broad portfolio, with interests in DI, film restoration, VFX, animation and studio equipment rental; and owns India’s largest cinema chain.

Together, the two companies have a combined enterprise value of over $25 billion.

From partners to owners
Digital Domain had existing relationships with both firms, Screen International reports: with Reliance to open studios in London and Mumbai, and with Galloping Horse to co-produce animated feature Legend Of Tembo.

The latter was being produced out of Digital Domain’s Florida Studio, which was closed earlier this month.

Read the official Digital Domain press statement