For quite some time, the visual effects industry has been battling closings and bankruptcies. However, when Rhythm & Hues had to file for bankruptcy protection in the midst of all the Oscar attention, it became the straw that broke the camel's back. How could VFX artists be honored for their work and at the same time be fighting for work?
Late last week the saga of Rhythm & Hues came to an end, with a holding company affiliated with Prana Studios winning the top bid for the studio. The price, according to reports, was $17 million.
Also in the hunt but coming up short in the end was a Chinese company as well as Prime Focus. Prime focus and stalking horse bidder JS Communications tried to contest the sale to no avail.
Meanwhile, the overall situation within the industry remains difficult and trying, to say the least. Tippett Studio, whose film Ted entertained audiences last summer, reportedly laid off 40 percent of its staff last Friday. Sadly, more layoffs could be in the future there.
While US visual effects studios are facing this troubling situation as other countries are luring work with subsidies, that does not mean that other studios are trouble-free. Recently The Mill, based in London, is closing its TV visual effects department in light of losing some big work due to series cancellations/discontinuations, such as Merlin.