RealD has lost some top execs recently — and it may not be entirely coincidental. Yesterday was the last day for COO and General Counsel Craig Gatarz. He was right behind SVP Marketing and Communications Rick Heineman, who quietly left in June. CEO Michael Lewis says that they “have been valuable members of the RealD executive team” and that he wishes them “luck in their new endeavors.” Gatarz, he adds, has a “true passion… for early stage companies so we are supportive of his desire to return to these roots.”
That likely isn’t the end: I hear that another senior exec is preparing to bolt.
Company morale took a hit in March with the retirement of Joe Peixoto, who was RealD’s President of Worldwide Cinema. The former top exec at United Cinemas International and Canada’s Famous Players chain helped to introduce RealD’s 3D technology with Disney’s Chicken Little, and drove many of the company’s deals with exhibition chains.
Each has a particular reason for moving on. But the decisions come at time when many believe that RealD has lost the sense of itself as a growth company which it had when it went public in 2010. The stock is down 12.9% over the last 12 months and has been relatively stagnant since late 2011. That’s partly attributable to the diminished enthusiasm for 3D as a product. Morgan Stanley’s Ryan Fiftal notes this morning that theaters will have nine 3D films in Q3, down from 13 in the period last year, and that attendance at 3D films likely will be flat. RealD’s ambitions to bring 3D to TV sets took a big hit in late 2011 when Samsung decided not to make LCD screens for the technology.