When a hologram slightly resembling the late Tupac Shakur popped up at this year's Coachella and started rapping along to "California Love," people everywhere thought they were glimpsing into the future.
Imagine a world in which you can buy tickets to see the hologram John Lennon sip sizzurp and play the sitar with the hologram DJ Screw. Or how about a hologram Rocky Marciano fighting the hologram of Mike Tyson from 20 years ago? Even the Republican National Convention was rumored to be unveiling a hologram Ronald Reagan at its convention last month, but it decided to drop the stunt at the last minute because GOP leaders thought Holoreagan would overshadow Mitt Romney's speech.
It's an abrupt end for the nearly 20-year-old company, whose founders include director James Cameron. Before its IPO and Tupac tricks, Digital Domain worked on special effects for scores of big movies including "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Transformers" and Cameron's "Titanic." The company won an Oscar for its work on reverse-aging Brad Pitt's character in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
But Digital Domain's financials have long been a concern. Since the company was typically hired by Hollywood studios on a contract basis, its revenue stream was pretty small. Digital Domain expressed hope recently that expanding the virtual performer business beyond Tupac would be lucrative, as it would be able to get a cut of the ticket sales for such events.
Digital Domain wasn't able to get out of the hole quickly enough. As of June 30, the company had assets of $205 million and debts of $214 million.
Now if you'd like to reanimate your favorite dead celebrities, you're going to have to dig up their bones at midnight on the third Friday in October and cast a new-blood spell like the rest of us.
UPDATE: This post has been updated to note that Digital Domain appears to not have been involved with the rumored Reagan hologram, which was overseen by AV Concepts. AV Concepts is not bankrupt.