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VFX Industry Shakeup: Framestore Buys Company 3 and Method

Leading visual effects studio behind films like ‘Avengers: Endgame’ and the upcoming ‘No Time to Die’ and ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ acquires the former Deluxe creative studio assets, in a move that brings some of the industry’s key production expertise and capacity under one roof.

In a deal that’s sure to shakeup the global VFX business, London-headquartered Framestore, in partnership with Aleph Capital and Crestview Partners, has announced its acquisition of post-production house Company 3, visual effects company Method Studios, and their sister companies, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Sir William Sargent, who founded Framestore in 1986, said in a statement, "Our vision for the future of our industry is storytelling across all the media of content delivery -- from mobile to IMAX; and headset to theme parks. Stories originated in one medium need to be able to travel across all of these and be adapted creatively and technically for each."

Framestore is known throughout the industry as one of the leading VFX studios, responsible for huge shot counts and award-winning work on films like Avengers: Endgame, Blade Runner 2049, Gravity, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. They have also worked on numerous high-profile episodic projects for streaming services such as Amazon, Netflix and Disney+, as well as immersive theme park experiences for companies like Wanda and Lionsgate Entertainment World. The deal further expands their global production and services capacity with the addition of facilities in cities like L.A., San Francisco, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Pune, and Melbourne, many of which provide significant government support for entertainment production. 

Company 3 and Method have been operating as their own brands since this summer, when global investment firm Platinum Equity acquired Deluxe Entertainment Services’ distribution business. Deluxe’s creative businesses, which included Company 3, Method Studios, Encore, Encore VFX, EFILM, Level 3, and Stereo D, were not part of the transaction; they began operating under the leadership of Company 3 / Method president Stefan Sonnenfeld. The distribution and creative businesses had been essentially operating independently of one another, with the exception of some internal / corporate overlap, since 2019.

Regarding the Framestore acquisition, in a released statement, Sonnenfeld said, "The partnership represents the combining of two great teams, both bringing world class expertise from our respective fields. What we have achieved as individual companies sets the tone for what we can deliver as a united force."

Deluxe had previously made several key moves to expand its VFX business. In July 2018, it acquired the award-winning 300-person VFX studio, Atomic Fiction, founded by Kevin Baillie and Ryan Tudhope. The studio was known for, among other projects, the fantastic, SUV flipping opening chase scene from Tim Miller’s Marvel superhero hit, Deadpool; the studio subsequently rebranded at Method. Earlier that year in February, Method Studios completed its merger with Australian VFX studio Iloura, known for their work on shows like George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road. Deluxe acquired Method back in 2010.

Dan Sarto's picture

Dan Sarto is Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Animation World Network.