India’s Prana Studios Takes Over Rhythm & Hues, VFX House Behind “Life Of Pi”

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India’s Prana Studios Takes Over Rhythm & Hues, VFX House Behind “Life Of Pi”

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The Los Angeles Times reports that American animation/visual effects studio Rhythm & Hues, the VFX house behind “Life of Pi” has been acquired at auction by Indian company Prana Studios.

The Oscar-winning visual effects house had filed for bankruptcy protection last month, a source close to the deal said Thursday night.

A court hearing on confirmation of the winning bidder is scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday.

Prana Studios is a VFX and animation studio with bases in Los Angeles and Mumbai. It is currently providing animation for Disney’s upcoming 3D feature Planes.

Other bidders in the auction included India’s Prime Focus; a Chinese entity involving Jiang Yanmin, president of China Lion (and a founder of Technicolor Beijing); and bicoastal animation company Psyop.

The sale also underlines the growing influence of Indian companies in Hollywood’s post production sector. India’s Reliance MediaWorks last year joined China’s Galloping Horse film and TV company to acquire the Venice-based Digital Domain, the studio co-founded by “Avatar” director James Cameron.

Rhythm & Hues has been known as one of the most artist-friendly visual effects companies, with generous salaries, vacation time and benefits. Critics of its management complain it was overstaffed, especially in North America. Before its financial troubles Rhythm & Hues was sending 40% of its work abroad. Court documents signal that R&H expects to send much more work to Asia, perhaps 80% or more.

Prana Studios is expected to assume responsibility for a nearly $16-million loan extended to Rhythm & Hues by Universal Studios and 20th Century Fox. The loan was part of the effects company’s plan to avoid liquidation, enabling it to complete work on current projects, including “R.I.P.D.” and “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.”

[LA Times]

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