Reliance MediaWorks picks up stake in James Cameron’s bankrupt firm

The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani-owned Indian firm will have a 30 percent share in the Avatar and Titanic director’s digital company

Reliance MediaWorks Ltd has submitted a winning bid of $30.2 million to part-own some of the businesses of James Cameron‘s Digital Domain Productions, which has to its credit visual effects for films like Titanic, it was announced Monday. The bid was submitted with Galloping Horse, a leading firm in China engaged in film and TV financing, production, distribution, advertising and publishing. It recently added cinema construction, new media, animated content and talent management to its portfolio.

Reliance MediaWorks will hold a 30 percent stake and Galloping Horse the rest. The two companies will acquire all assets constituting the businesses of Digital Domain in feature films, advertising, visual effects, commercial production, studios in the US and Canada and a co-production stake in the feature film Ender’s Game.

Founded in 1993 by director Cameron, Stan Winston and Scott Ross, Digital Domain has provided the innovative visuals for over 90 movies, including TitanicPirates of the Caribbean: At World’s EndTransformers trilogy and Tron: Legacy.

The sale is subject to the execution of an asset-purchase agreement and an approval by the bankruptcy court in New York, the hearing for which is scheduled Monday. The two firms outbid the amount of $15 million proposed by Searchlight Capital Partners.

“Digital Domain is a legend in the industry, known for its world-class quality of work and creative talent,” said Ivy Zhong, Vice-Chairman and Managing Director, Beijing Galloping Horse Film Company in a statement Monday, adding, “We are thrilled to have found a partner in Reliance MediaWorks that is as committed as we are to ensuring Digital Domain’s continued excellence and success.”

“We have had a wonderful working relationship with Digital Domain over the years and we could not be happier to take it further through the joint Galloping Horse – Reliance acquisition,” said Venkatesh Roddam, CEO – Film and Media Services, Reliance MediaWorks. “We are looking forward to working with Digital Domain employees and customers to making the operation better and stronger,” added Roddam.

A creative force in advertising, Digital Domain has lent its artistry to several hundred commercials, videogames and music videos, apart from co-production of feature films, the creative development of advertising and the creation of virtual performers. It has facilities in California and Vancouver, including a virtual production studio. It also has a subsidiary, Mothership Media, with talented directors to create from start to finish commercials, video games and campaigns across platforms. Digital Domain had filed a voluntary petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code in the US on September 11 and ancillary relief in the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada a week later.

Beijing Galloping Horse and Reliance MediaWorks have a combined enterprise value of more than $25 billion, complementary offerings and presence in multiple worldwide geographies strategic to the entertainment industry.