Don Groves is a Deadline contributor based in Sydney.
Late last year, OmniLab Media and George Miller and Doug Mitchell’s Kennedy Miller Mitchell disbanded their digital production joint venture Dr D Studios after making Happy Feet Two. Now, OmniLab Media is selling its visual effects and post-production businesses to Deluxe Australia, a subsidiary of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group. OmniLab will continue to produce films and TV series, notably holding onto production divisions Ambience Entertainment (Killer Elite, Tomorrow, When The War Began) and New Zealand-based Oktobor Animation (which supplied visual effects to the TV series The Penguins of Madagascar, Fanboy and Chum Chum and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness). Margins are tight in the local post business, amid a prolonged downturn in Australian film production and international films that location in Oz.
An industry exec opines that OmniLab’s owners Graham Mapp and his son Christopher may have felt that as part of a global company, Deluxe Australia was better placed to integrate and run most of its businesses. Among the OmniLab divisions that Deluxe is acquiring are Iloura (which animated the title character in Universal’s Ted), Digital Pictures, Cornerpost and recording studio Flagstaff. Financials were not disclosed and the fate of staff may not become clear until the deal closes August 31. OmniLab Media has exec producing and co-financing credits on titles that include Bran Nue Dae, Oliver Stone’s W., Oren Moverman’s The Messenger and heist pic The Bank Job. Ambience is producing animated series The Adventures of Figaro Pho, a co-production with Chocolate Liberation Front, for Australian broadcaster ABC. The company has not revealed any projects in development apart from a sequel to Tomorrow, When The War Began, which is being scripted by Kieran Darcy-Smith who directed Wish You Were Here.