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Indian Media Company Buys U.K. VFX House Men-from-Mars

Century Communications, one of India's largest independently owned media companies and owner of leading Indian vfx company Pixion, is making its first move into the global arena with the acquisition of U.K. based, vfx house Men-from-Mars.

Emmy and BAFTA nominated Men-from-Mars was established in 2000 by Simon Frame and Phil Attfield (former principles of renowned vfx house Men in White Coats). The company has produced vfx for more than 60 feature films including Academy Award-winning ELIZABETH, RELATIVE VALUES, THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST I CAPTURE THE CASTLE, PICCADILLY JIM, STRAIGHTHEADS and recent U.K. hits RUN FAT BOY RUN (New Line), and ST TRINIANS (Ealing Studios).

Their TV credits include TSUNAMI; THE AFTERMATH, STRANDED, THE INFINITE WORLDS OF H.G. WELLS, TRIAL AND RETRIBUTION, HENRY VIII and HORNBLOWER II -- MUTINY.

In 2001, 2002 and 2003 they received a BAFTA, Emmy and Royal Television Society nominations for their vfx work.

In 2006 and 2007 Men-from-Mars bid and won one their largest ever vfx commissions, Ed Pressman's epic MUTANT CHRONICLES, a 1,400-vfx-shot movie shot nearly entirely on green screen (www.mutantchroniclesthemovie.com).

"We have always been called on to make small films look big; MUTANT CHRONICLES gave us the opportunity to make a medium size movie look huge," said Frame.

Men-from-Mars built a highly economic vfx pipeline that delivered the film on time and budget, with a creative team of fewer than 36 artists.

Century Communications has acquired Frame and Attfield stakes, as well as Welsh Media Company Barcud Derwen's shareholding for an undisclosed sum. It is believed that the sale and the commitment of inward investment into the company in the coming months will be more than 2 million pounds.

Frame and Attfield will retain strategic and management control of the company, and will also continue as board directors. Tom Horton, who joined Men-from-Mars in April 2007 in a senior management role, has also been appointed as a board director and will take the role of Managing Director.

Naresh Malik, CEO of Pixion in India, will be working directly with the Men-from-Mars directors to maximize the synergies between the businesses.

Pixion's international partnership with Men-from-Mars follows the rapid growth of their vfx business in India in both the feature film and TV sectors over the last two years. In addition to its existing facilities at Delhi and Mumbai, Pixion has obtained 50,000 square feet of prime space in Chennai with plans to build a vfx facility with the capacity to house more than 500 artists.

Pixion is currently working on 40 films to be released within the next six months with 80 films in the pipeline for 2008, including several fully CG productions.

"Besides the huge volume of films being finished digitally, there has also been an exponential rise in the budgets, and as a consequence the sophistication of the high-end Bollywood movies," according to Malik.

The vfx industry in India is expected to grow from the current 900 million rupees to 2.7 billion rupees at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 32.5 percent.

"At Pixion we have raised the bar both creatively and technically to accommodate this rapid growth. The Men-from-Mars acquisition gives us an opportunity to inject international talent directly into Pixion and so establish the Men-from-Mars/Pixion brand as one of the most cost effective creatively drive vfx pipelines," Malik said.

Attfield is looking forward to the cross culture exchange between London and India: "On MUTANT CHRONICLES, we had artists hailing from Britain, France, Pakistan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Ireland, Cyprus, Israel and India. Working with creative artists of different cultures and nationalities can be demanding but ultimately very rewarding. The Pixion/MfM collaboration is an exciting opportunity to build on this recent experience."

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