Tuesday 21 January 2020

Dubliner takes Oscar-winning studio to India

William Sargent's CGI outfit Framestore to launch Mumbai facility, writes John Reynolds

Framestore, headed up by William Sargent, has boosted its turnover by £26.65m (€31.4m), and has worked on high-profile productions, including Netflix’s The Crown, starring Claire Foy
Framestore, headed up by William Sargent, has boosted its turnover by £26.65m (€31.4m), and has worked on high-profile productions, including Netflix’s The Crown, starring Claire Foy

Dubliner William Sargent's Oscar-winning CGI movie effects studio Framestore is to open a new production facility in Mumbai this year, as its turnover increased by £26.65m (€31.4m) to £182.7m for the year to the end of March.

The London-headquartered business almost doubled its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, to £15.2m, up from £8.1m the previous year.

The rise in turnover was due to increased revenues for productions for the US and Canada, which hit £110.6m, compared with £80.6m the previous year.

Profits were lower last year partly due to the costs of opening an office in Chicago, and moving to a new one in London, the accounts stated.

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Among the productions that Framestore has worked on recently are The Crown, See, His Dark Materials and The Witcher.

This year's Oscar long list for best visual effects features seven movies that the firm has worked on. The three of those that it worked on extensively are Alita: Battle Angel, Captain Marvel and Avengers: Endgame.

Speaking to industry press in early December, Sargent said that the new studio in Mumbai would employ 500 new staff, and be located in the heart of its Goregaon tech district.

Framestore already has a presence in India through an investment in local firm Anibrain, which is based in Pune.

Sargent, who is a frequent visitor to India, added: "Mumbai has become a centre of excellence in digital film-making. There's a depth of talent that can deliver to the scale of Hollywood, with the colour and flair of Bollywood.

"It's an incredibly vibrant city and its presence on the international scene is holding us all to a higher standard. In terms of visual effects, we will set the standard here, as we did in Montreal almost eight years ago.

"Our investment in Anibrain has grown considerably, and we continue to develop and grow that business. It will become a valued production partner to our Mumbai offering," he added.

The Indian visual effects and animation industry will be worth €2.2bn by 2024, according to KPMG.

In the past year, Framestore also designed and installed an integrated digital content system at the $25bn (€22.3bn) Hudson Yards development in Manhattan, and created media for five theme park rides at the recently opened Lionsgate Entertainment World on Hengqin Island in China.

Next year, Sargent - who is believed to own a 10pc stake - and his fellow minority shareholders, who collectively own 25pc of Framestore, may have the option to sell their shares to majority owner, Chinese firm Ithink Cultural Investment Holdings. This depends on the level of profit and a related valuation.

Ithink, in which martial arts actor Jackie Chan is a shareholder, has a 75pc stake in Framestore, which it acquired in 2016 when it valued the firm at about €175m.

Sunday Indo Business

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