Wall Street to get Real with 3-D
RealD, the privately owned technology company based in Beverly Hills that has emerged as the leading provider of 3-D systems for movie theaters, is preparing a plan for a public stock offering this summer to cash in on Hollywood's infatuation with the new format, people familiar with the matter said.
The timing is ripe for RealD, which has invested more than $100 million in technology that Hollywood has been quickly embracing. In addition to supplying theaters with 3-D adapters that attach to digital projectors, the company has been licensing its technology for 3-D viewing in the home.
Spurred on by the huge success of James Cameron's 3-D film "Avatar," studios have been rushing to release as many 3-D films as they can. Exhibitors also have been scrambling to add enough screens to handle the onslaught, with the three largest circuits recently securing financing to rapidly expand the rollout of digital cinema that makes 3-D viewing possible.
The proposed IPO, which was first reported by the Financial Times, would seek to raise as much $1 billion, allowing its principal investors to cash out. Shamrock Holdings, investment arm for the late Roy Disney, invested $50 million in the company, which launched in 2003. An investment group headed by Pequot Capital has pumped in another $20 million.
JP Morgan Chase and the investment firm Piper Jaffray & Co. are expected to handle the proposed IPO, which would occur by the end of June, said one person familiar with the plans.
A spokesman for RealD said: "We don't comment on rumors and speculation."
-- Richard Verrier
Photo: Josh Greer and Michael Lewis, founders of RealD, at the company's headquarters in Beverly Hills. Credit: Los Angeles Times.