Major VFX Landscape Shake-Up: Framestore Buys Company 3, Method

Stefan Sonnenfeld and Sir William Sargent
Courtesy of Framestore

Stefan Sonnenfeld and Sir William Sargent.

In a deal that alters the global visual effects and postproduction landscape, London-headquartered Framestore — the visual effects house whose work on Gravity and Blade Runner 2049 won VFX Oscars — in partnership with Aleph Capital and Crestview Partners, announced the acquisition of postproduction banner Company 3, VFX business Method and their sister companies.

Combined, they aim to form what the companies described as a "global creative services studio working across every part of the creative and production process." Terms of the deal and additional details were not immediately available.

"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,” Sir William Sargent, co-founder and CEO of Framestore, said in a statement. “Stories originated in one medium need to be able to travel across all of these and be adapted creatively and technically for each."

Added Company 3/Method president and leading colorist Stefan Sonnenfeld in a released statement: "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."

Founded in 1986, Framestore's work has included VFX for franchises including Avengers, Harry Potter, Guardians of the Galaxy and Fantastic Beasts; shows for streaming services, Netflix and Disney+; as well as interactive media and theme park experiences. It maintains facilities in London, Mumbai, Montreal, New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Recent and upcoming VFX work includes Wonder Woman 1984, No Time to Die, Jingle Jangle, The Midnight Sky and Fantastic Beasts 3. In 2016, it became majority-owned by China's Cultural Investment Holdings with several members of the management team, including Sargent, retaining minority stakes.

Company 3 and Method were Deluxe brands until last summer, when Deluxe Entertainment Services, sans its creative businesses, were acquired by Platinum Equity. Company 3 is best known for color grading, with recent grading work including Wonder Woman 1984, Zack Snyder's Justice League and Top Gun: Maverick, as well as TV and commercial projects. VFX business Method's recent VFX work includes Top Gun: Maverick and Ad Astra. Following last summer's split from Deluxe, Company 3 and Method, along with former Deluxe creative services businesses EFILM, Encore, Encore VFX, Level 3 and Stereo D, began operating as an independent entity, C3M, under the continued leadership of Sonnenfeld.

In recent months, the EFILM and Encore Hollywood (Encore VFX remains unchanged) names were retired and those businesses were renamed Company 3. Those companies, as well as Company 3, were among Hollywood's most recognizable postproduction brands. EFILM was a pioneering digital intermediate company founded in 1989, whose recent work included Blade Runner 2049 and 1917, working with a frequent client, Oscar-winning cinematographer Roger Deakins. Encore had been a leading Hollywood post house in the TV business since 1985. Former Deluxe-branded post businesses such as Deluxe Toronto now also use the name Company 3.

With that rebranding, Company 3's reach grew with facilities in Hollywood, Santa Monica, New York, Atlanata, London, Toronto and Vancouver. VFX business Method has bases in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Toronto, Vancouver, Pune and Melbourne. Additionally, in 2018, Method grew with the acquisition of Robert Zemeckis' go-to VFX shop, Atomic Fiction, which at the time was rebranded as Method at its Montreal and San Francisco facilities.