June 09, 2014 10:00pm PT by Carolyn Giardina
Technicolor to Acquire Visual Effects House Mr. X
Technicolor has reached an agreement to acquire Toronto-headquartered visual effects house Mr. X, whose recent credits include Vikings and Penny Dreadful, in a deal whose terms have not been disclosed. The acquisition is subject to approval by Canada’s Department of Canadian Heritage and is expected to close in mid to late July.
Per the agreement, Mr. X would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of Technicolor and operate as part of its production services division, which also encompasses VFX house MPC (The Moving Picture Company). The companies stated that both VFX brands would continue to be used, and so the deal would effectively further beef up Technicolor’s overall VFX business, while giving Mr. X more resources. MPC — whose recent credits include Godzilla, X-Men: Day of Future Past and Maleficent — will continue to focus on studio features and advertising clients, while Mr. X would continue to primarily target TV production and international film co- productions.
With the acquisition, Mr. X’s co-founder and president Dennis Berardi will become global managing director of Mr. X reporting to Tim Sarnoff, president of production services for Technicolor. Mr. X currently employs roughly 200 and no layoffs are planned, the companies said.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Berardi acknowledged the challenging VFX climate that is causing many companies and artists to struggle, but he asserted that this acquisition is "all about growth and expansion, and not about any kind of damage control. ... It's a difficult time for a lot of companies. I will say, however, Mr. X has had its three best years in a row. We are fully solvent and have been growing the business.
“By joining forces with Technicolor’s production services division, we will have greater scale, resources and access to cutting edge technology and R&D to serve our clients and to continue to grow the business."
Mr. X’s recent TV work includes History Channel’s Vikings, Showtime’s Penny Dreadful and Guillermo del Toro’s upcoming The Strain for FX, as well as feature work on upcoming James Brown biopic Get On Up for director Tate Taylor, Lasse Hallstrom’s The Hundred Foot Journey, and del Toro’s Crimson Peak. It is prepping for season 3 of Vikings and season two of Penny Dreadful.
MPC handles feature and commercial work from its headquarters in London, and also maintains bases for features in Montreal and Vancouver, and for commercials in New York and Los Angeles. Upcoming work include Ridley Scott’s Exodus for Fox, and Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella and Rob Marshall’s Into the Woods for Disney.
Sarnoff, who became head of the newly-formed Technicolor production services division in April, has started to implement what he describes as a “holistic” approach to production with closer communication and collaboration between the Technicolor brands. He told THR that this means Mr. X will have access to Technicolor resources including its developing cloud-based production network and proprietary MPC software.
Mr. X is also slated to work on Killjoys, a futuristic space drama for Canada’s Space channel, by relocating some of its Mr. X artists to Technicolor Toronto, creating a sort of “post campus” that will handle VFX, sound and postproduction for the series.