You probably aren’t familiar with the company Prime Focus World. They’re a visual effects house, and they did the majority of the visuals for Sin City: A Dame To Kill For. So they’ve got a lot riding on the movie… a lot more than they realistically should.
Variety has a long, interesting read about Prime Focus and how basically it’s been repeatedly screwed by Hollywood. Their first job was the infamously bad 3D transfer of Clash of The Titans, for example. But what pops out pretty early on is just how shady Sin City: A Dame To Kill For seems to be as an enterprise:
After shooting was done, though, the footage languished for almost a year. “Because it was independently financed this time, the challenge was finding a company that could come in as a financial partner,” Rodriguez explains. “In other words, give us f/x work as equity. Not many companies will do that.”
Uh, yeah, they won’t because VFX work is expensive and you essentially want it for free, up front, with no guarantee of return. Furthermore, as Variety itself notes, deals like that are what shut down effects houses like Digital Domain and Rhythm and Hues. Rodriguez is not a stupid person and would be well aware of this, especially since he owns his own effects house.
It’s a little odd, as well, since Rodriguez clearly presold the movie to multiple territories to raise funding. With that strategy, usually you take the money from the presale, use it to pay for the movie, and then make money on the back end. Furthermore, most film funding companies, when they give you money, want proof you can actually deliver what you’re promising.
So Rodriguez, to make this movie, had to have already proven he could finish it before he had the cash to shoot a frame of it. And yet, he was basically winging it on the visual effects, and remember: Those are the movie, here. There’s even fewer sets and props this time around. Which raises the question of what would have happened if Rodriguez couldn’t have secured an equity deal from a studio desperate enough to take it.