Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kick Them While They're Horizontal

At least one of our fine, entertainment conglomerates is showing R & H no mercy.

... Fox and Universal agreed to extend credit that will allow the [Rhythm and Hues] to proceed with work on their films, presumably including Fox’s “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” and Universal’s “R.I.P.D.”

But Warner, according to the effects company’s motion, has demanded the “return of all materials” related to three of its scheduled movies. Two of those were identified in the filings as “Black Sky,” a thriller from the company’s New Line Cinema unit, and “300: Rise of an Empire,” which was made in partnership with Legendary Entertainment, and is set for release in August. The third film ... is “The Seventh Son,” a Legendary film, which is scheduled for release by Warner in October. ...

Funny thing about Warner Bros.

Back in the go-go nineties, WB hatched its own visual effects house inside Warner Bros. Animation, then expanded it into a full-blown visual effects studio, housed in a large brick building at Empire Avenue and Buena Vista Street, near what is known today as "Media Center North" in beautiful Burbank.

Sadly, the VFX studio was short-lived. A month before it closed, I had lunch with a Warner Bros. exec who said "We're losing our ass on the visual effects division," so I kind of knew its days were numbered. Tim Sarnoff, its head, jumped ship right near the end and paddled over to Sony Pictures Imageworks, the only studio-based visual effects house at the time. (Disney tried the same thing with The Secret Lab at the turn of the century, but TSL didn't last long.ILM ate the place alive. All the "money shots" for Pearl Harbor, Disney's mega production at the time, were done at ILM.)

Now, a dozen years later, the big entertainment conglomerates are sending their money shots to Canada, where generous Canadian citizens (otherwise known as "suckers") underwrite Hollywood visual effects work. Meantime, Time-Warner makes sure as many bodily fluids as possible are sucked from the still-warm corpse of Rhythm and Hues. Warners is no doubt thinking:

"Hey Mo Fo, if we couldn't make a go of visual effects, nobody makes a go. Got it?"



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