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Digital Domain shakes up management

October 23, 2008 |  7:28 pm

Digital Domain, the Venice-based visual effects company that tried unsuccessfully to go public this spring and is facing stiff competition in its core business, shuffled its senior management late Thursday.Digitaldomain_2 

The Academy Award-winning firm, best known for creating the digital effects behind such movies as "Transformers" and "Titanic," has named Cliff Plumer chief executive officer. Plumer had joined the company in 2006 as chief technology officer after a 10-year tenure at ILM and Lucasfilm.  He replaces Mark Miller, who remains the company's president, according to a statement.

The company also named a new chief financial officer, Kevin Weston, a former LucasArts executive who will work with Plumer to develop the company's long-term plan to expand into the video game business. He replaces Yvette Macaluso, who has resigned for personal reasons, a company spokeswoman said.

The changes come six months after Digital Domain's planned IPO drew a lackluster response from investors. The company wanted proceeds from a public offering to pay down debt and eventually transform itself from a work-for-hire commercial and movie effects house into a full-fledged production studio with its own pipeline of computer-animated movies and video games.

CtlogoDigital Domain says the management moves do not signal a change in longterm strategy.

Co-founded 15 years ago by "Titanic" director James Cameron, Digital Domain was acquired in May 2006 for $35 million by a group of investors led by director Michael Bay, the company's co-chairman. A new management team has invested heavily in hiring employees, upgrading equipment and acquiring a software firm.

Those investments, along with industry challenges, have hit Digital Domain's bottom line. In 2007, the company posted a $20-million loss on revenue of about $79 million, according to its SEC filing. Like other visual effects houses, Digital Domain has been squeezed in recent years by competitors in Europe and Asia that are able to produce effects for a fraction of the cost, as well as by studios' demands to produce splashier effects for less cost.

-- Richard Verrier