Does IMAX's New Laser Projection Deal With Kodak Threaten RealD?

Many investors think so this morning; RealD shares are down more than 7.7% in early trading. There’s no immediate danger: RealD has a few years left on its exclusive deals with major theater owners to supply their 3D-projection technology. Still, BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield warns today that over time “IMAX could utilize/license the Kodak technology to offer a superior 2D/3D projection system for traditional (non-IMAX) movie theaters worldwide.” For now, IMAX says it just plans to use the Kodak technology to improve images for its films on screens larger than 80 feet and in dome theaters beginning in late 2013. The company has been working with tech company Laser Light Engines to develop a similar projection process. But IMAX says that Kodak’s will “consume less power, last longer and have a wider color gamut.” Blending its current work with Kodak’s patents “puts us at the forefront of laser-based projection,” IMAX CEO Rich Gelfond says. The companies didn’t disclose how much IMAX will pay to license the patents from Kodak, which is struggling to shift its focus from cameras to printing. Kodak shares are up 6.5% so far today, while IMAX is down 3.1%. Still, with Kodak so desperate for cash, Greenfield wants RealD to explain “why did they not license/acquire the Kodak technology themselves”?

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