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Thursday, Nov 30, 2023

Local Firm, Movie Moguls Hot on New 3-D Technology

As the summer winds down and studios and theater owners alike bemoan the disappointing box office results, many in Hollywood have questioned what can be done to revitalize flagging movie-going attendance. While various answers undoubtedly have been bandied about over power lunches at the Ivy, one of the solutions to Hollywood’s box office malaise may come from a rapidly growing post production company based in Agoura Hills. The company in question, In-Three, has developed a new technology to convert two-dimensional films into three-dimensions. But this 3-D technology is leaps ahead of the old 3-D popularized in the 1950s. Made specifically for digital transmission, In-Three’s 3-D films bombard viewers with crisp, clean, and vivid images. Replacing the antiquated red and blue 3-D glasses are dark electronic lenses, specially manufactured by In-Three through a partnership with an Oregon firm. According to Jan Saxton, a film entertainment analyst and the vice-president of Carmel-based Adams Media Research, In-Three has an excellent shot of being successful, partially thanks to the current box office climate. “Certainly with the proliferating home entertainment options, theaters will need the next technological innovations to re-invigorate the movie-going experience in the theaters,” Saxton said. “When that happens, Americans will love it. They’ll always still want to go to the movies.” But its not just profit-minded studio execs and theater owners that are singing the praises of In-Three, many of Hollywood’s biggest name directors are clamoring to work with the six-year old company. While In-Three spent most of its first half decade mired in research and development, the company recently created a big splash when George Lucas announced at ShoWest 2005, that he will re-release all six “Star Wars” films in 3-D, using In-Three’s patented technology. “It’s really a beautiful system, and one of the reasons I’m promoting it today is I’m extremely anxious to reissue that old group of films I did so long ago in a galaxy far away,” Lucas said at ShoWest. “When you see some of this test footage, it’s shockingly good, and you can see how people would want to go see it. It means we can repurpose a lot of old movies, and at the same time it really gives a whole new dimension to the movies we’re making now.” Since Lucas’ March announcement, In-Three has been in non-stop growth mode. Recently, the company inked a deal to lease 36,780 square feet in Westlake Village, a huge expansion for the company which currently operates out of two smaller facilities in Agoura Hills. “We’re actually turning away projects. We had to turn away Steven Spielberg, who wanted us to make ‘War of the Worlds’ in 3-D,” In-Three’s President and CEO Michael Kaye said. “It was all bad timing. Can you imagine having to say no to that? There are a number of projects that we’re lining up right now. What we have to do is continue build our company up.” Employee-wise, the company is also registering explosive growth, going from just 10 employees in October of 2004, to approximately 120 employees currently. By the time, the new facility is fully moved into, Kaye expects the company to have 400 employees. But In-Three might have been a victim of its own success, when earlier this year IMAX slapped the company with a lawsuit, alleging that it violated one of IMAX’s patents. “They originally approached us and wanted us to do work specifically for them, which was fine but it never happened,” Michael Kaye said. “They were threatened by us and didn’t want us to have our materials showing on non-Imax screens. They threatened us at that time, saying that they’d tell the studios not to work with us. All I would say is, take a look at what their business model is and you’ll understand why they feel so threatened by us.” Thus far, the courts have ruled in In-Three’s favor, when at the beginning of this month a District Court judge rejected IMAX’s request for a preliminary injection against In-Three. With the lawsuit continuing to hang over the company’s head, Kaye opts to focus on the present, thinking about the best ways to handle such stunning growth. Additionally, after six years in existence, In-Three is getting ready to take in significant revenues. Though the company would not disclose specific figures, Kaye said that the company will be paid in the low millions for each film that it converts to three-dimensions. “The goal is to grow to as many facilities as we can, do as many feature films as we can and get them all over the word,” Kaye said. “As for things like an IPO, I don’t know. It’s the last thing on my mind. I just want to keep pushing this thing forward.”

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