Prime Focus emerges as bidder for Rhythm & Hues

Prime Focus emerges as bidder for Rhythm & Hues

from: Richard Verrier, Los Angeles Times

Prime Focus, the Indian visual effects and 3-D conversion company, has emerged as a possible buyer for Rhythm & Hues, the prominent visual effects company which recently filed for bankruptcy protection.

Prime Focus had previously attempted to provide $20 million in financing to Rhythm & Hues, but the deal fell through prior to the company’s bankruptcy filing last month.

Now Prime Focus, one of India’s leading visual effects and post-production companies, with a large operation in Hollywood, is one of three leading bidders to acquire El Segundo-based Rhythm & Hues, according to a source close to the studio who was not authorized to discuss bids.

Two other bidders are Prana Studios, an animation and visual effects company with offices in L.A. and Mumbai, India, and Psyop, a production and design firm that works with various brands and agencies, and also has an office in L.A.

The previous leading bidder, South Korean entertainment and media company JS Communications, this week withdrew its offer to acquire Rhythm & Hues. JS Communications executive David Shim cited a lack of cooperation from the major Hollywood studios.

A competitive auction will occur on March 27. If accepted, the successful buyer will submit its bid for approval by the Bankruptcy Court on March 29, effectively ending Rhythm & Hues’ bankruptcy proceeding.

Rhythm & Hues filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy code last month after laying off 250 employees.

Prime Focus in 2007 acquired Post Logic Studios, based in New York, and Frantic Films’ visual effects offices in Los Angeles, Vancouver and Winnipeg, Canada. Prime Focus has emerged as a leading player in converting movies into 3-D, getting work on such films as “Clash of the Titans,” “Star Wars: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” and “Men in Black 3.”

On Wednesday, Prime Focus announced that a Hong Kong private equity company, AID Partners Capital, has invested $10 million into its business. AID, which also recently invested in Legendary Pictures, said the investment was intended to help meet China’s growing demand for high-quality visual effects.

“3-D and VFX are now key elements of big-budget films. With the increasing budgets of China’s tent pole movies, there is a tremendous demand for world-class 3-D and VFX services in China,” said Kelvin Wu, principal partner at AID Partners.

Namit Malhotra, founder of Prime Focus and chairman and CEO of Prime Focus World N.V., said it is “heartening to see a discerning investor like AID Partners find such worth in our company.”

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