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John Textor, CEO of Company Behind Tupac Hologram, Resigns

6/12/2014 Lucas Shaw

By Lucas Shaw
TheWrap

John Textor, chairman and CEO of Florida-based special effects company Digital Domain Media Group, resigned on Friday as the embattled company announced it would close its studio in Port St. Lucie, Fla., as part of a "strategic realignment."

Textor's resignation is effectively immediately, and Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer, was named CEO of Digital Domain Productions.

DDMG is the parent company of Digital Domain Productions, a visual-effects and animation company founded by James Cameron, Scott Ross and Stan Winston that has produced effects for such films as "Thor," "Titanic" and the "Transformers" franchise.

DDMG also claimed headlines earlier this year as the maker of the Tupac hologram that Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg performed with at the Coachella Valley Arts & Music Festival.

Despite the buzz around the hologram, and rumors of a Ronald Reagan hologram at the Republican National Convention, the company has been in dire financial straits since going public last November. According to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission in August, it was unable to pay off $35 million in loans, though it then received an extension on those loans.

DDMG reported $75 million in lost operating income in its 2011 annual report and its stock price has dropped 87 percent over the past three months.

Those troubles prompted the company to usher in this "strategic realignment," which involves the "cessation of its Port St. Lucie operations." The company will reduce its staff in the city  where the company has been based, from 272 as of March 1, to 20.

In a resignation letter obtained by TC Palm, Textor wrote that he is in "in profound disagreement with the decision to close our animation and visual effects studio in the wonderful community of Port St. Lucie, Florida."

"I believe that each of you as directors, and specifically those on the Strategic Alternatives Committee, have tried to do your very best to deal with the unfortunate consequences of our life as a public company," Textor wrote in the letter.

"That said, I think the outcome was not only unwise, but also without compassion," he later added.

The company said it would continue to operate studios in Venice, Calif. and Vancouver while focusing on digital visual effects, CG animation and digital production.

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