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Mon 24 Sep 2012 12:39 PM

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Abu Dhabi’s SFX studio gets a lifeline

The James Cameron-founded company behind the deal has been saved from bankruptcy

Abu Dhabi’s SFX studio gets a lifeline
A still from the special effects movie Tron 2 on which DDMG worked.

Plans for a movie special effects production studio in Abu Dhabi may have been saved after it was reported the bankrupt company behind the deal, which was founded by Hollywood director James Cameron, was bought by a Chinese and Indian joint venture.

James Cameron’s Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG), which was set up in 1993 and has done digital effects for movies such as Titanic, Tron 2 and Transformers, had been bought by Beijing-based Galloping Horse and Indian firm Reliance in a 70:30 joint venture, US industry publication Variety reported on Saturday.

DDMG filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 21, a move which put in jeopardy its deal to build an animation, visual effects and motion capture studio in Abu Dhabi by 2015.

The report claimed the deal to buy DDMG had been given the green light by a US bankruptcy court judge and a hearing on the matter was scheduled for Sept. 24.

Twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s government-backed media free zone who signed the deal with DDMG in May, said it was unable to comment on the current status of the deal, which had reportedly set to create up to 500 jobs in the UAE capital.

"This is a great day for Digital Domain," CEO Ed Ulbrich told Variety. "Our new partners have incredible strength and reach in the global entertainment marketplace. They are powerful strategic partners that understand our business and our clients' business.

“Their support enables us to continue creating the highest quality entertainment and advertising and puts us in the strongest financial position that Digital Domain has ever been in,” he added.

Abu Dhabi’s collaboration with DDMG is designed to support the emirate's goal to become the region's centre of excellence for media content creation.

DDMG in May said it aimed to start production of visual effects and animation at studios in Abu Dhabi in early 2013, with plans to recruit and hire staff immediately from local and international talent pools. The deal marked the first time a major, global studio has established a presence in the region.

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