Darren Aronofsky's Noah might be full of rain, but the Paramount Pictures project didn't make it rain for Look Effects, the VFX company behind the movie's epic flood scenes. The ambitious project pushed Look Effects into so much more work than anticipated, that they are now struggling to stay afloat!
The Wrap reports the visual effects vendor is having serious financial troubles. But let's be clear, no one at Look Effects is blaming Aronofsky or Paramount for these problems. Sadly, this is too often the risk of business in this line of work because Hollywood has got their priorities twisted.
See, when a visual effects vendor is approached about creating a movie's computer-generated elements, they put in a bid for the job. This figure is effectively a fixed number, so if the project goes over budget, the VFX house frequently must eat these costs. At this time, no one is saying how much Look Effects bid for Noah, nor how in the red the production pushed them. But Look Effects President and Co-Founder Mark Driscoll did confess:
"It was a labor of love, and Paramount was extremely impressed with the work we created, but what it meant for Look is we ended up losing a lot of money. It was hard and challenging to get through it, but it definitely caused some financial difficulties."
"We over-extended ourselves considerably. We took on a bunch of work in our interest to be world class artists and to take our company to the next level and extend our capabilities, and it ended up taking more than we thought it was going to take."
Basically, Look Effects put the finished look of the film over their bottom line in hopes that Noah would land them more whales for clients. Making Paramount happy could also secure more work from the major studio, which might explain why Driscoll never approached the film production company about the added costs Look Effects was incurring. However, the studio did "ease the pain" by paying more to Look Effects when changes to the production's needs were made after the bid was finalized.
You might think that as crucial as visual effects have become to modern movies, VFX companies would be rolling in dough. But in actuality, it's a low-margin business. Plus, anticipating how many man hours will be needed to get massive effects just right is incredibly tricky. Remember when the makers of Life of Pi's celebrated VFX work went bankrupt? Despite the demand for top-notch effects, the supply end is suffering, underbidding to secure coveted jobs. Thankfully for Look Effects, they pulled in a profit on their other high-profile projects like Game of Thrones, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Those wins helped cover the major--but unquanitified--loss that Noah caused.
Noah will hit theaters March 28th.