Prime Focus Loses Big on Sin City

This weekend served as a cautionary tale for visual effects companies looking to diversify their income sources. Sin City 2 had a horrible opening weekend, opening in eighth place with 6.48 million at the box office. Box Office Mojo estimates that it might finish under $15 million, a far cry from it’s $60 to $70 million budget.

All the FX for Sin City 2 were done by Prime Focus World who also invested in the film. Variety had a good write up about it a few weeks ago.

From the Variety article:

PFW thought that since its prospective clients were in Hollywood, it should have its facilities there. “What we heard from our clients was we only do business if you want to get us the rebate in Canada and the rebate in London,” he says.

What is unbelievable to me is that PFW completed 2300 shots AND did the stereo conversion on such a tight (13 weeks??!!) schedule. Deadline.com reports that PFW invested 12.5 million, I’m assuming with such a bad turnout at the box office, they won’t make that money back.

This along with Rhythm and Hue’s investment in Yogi the Bear and Digital Domain’s investment in Ender’s Game should serve as a warning to other VFX companies who try to barter their services for a cut of the film’s profits.


On Friday there was a report of an amendment to California’s expanded film subsidy to specifically target VFX companies. The amendment supports aiding ADAPT in their countervailing duty efforts.

Here’s the amendment quoted from the Variety article:

“It is the intent of the Legislature to urge the United States Congress and the Intl. Trade Commission to investigate aggressively and impose sanctions, including tariffs, on productions and elements of production, including visual effects, virtual photography, and music scoring, that are digitally distributed and electronically transmitted, in its definition of ‘articles’ protected by the Tariff Act, to combat unfair and illegal competition from international parties.”

It’s still a big question if the Governor will sign the bill into law.