With New Post-Production 3D Initiative, Legend3D Secures $19 Million

12/13/11Follow @bvbigelow

San Diego-based Legend3D, a private digital media and visual effects company, says it has closed on a $19 million Series E preferred stock offering.

The company, which ranks as the largest studio providing 3D conversion services in the United States, says proceeds from the offering will be used to further research and development, and to help Legend3D finance some post-production 3D film conversions through partnerships with major Hollywood studios—a new business initiative. While major Hollywood studios are excited about the trend in 3D filmmaking, they have trouble justifying the expense of converting existing motion pictures from 2D into 3D, according to Barry Sandrew, Legend 3D’s founder and chief operating officer.

Legend3D says its latest round of financing was led by Northwater Capital Management, an investment firm based in Toronto, New York, and Chicago that makes strategic investments in intellectual property. Legend3D was founded just over a decade ago with $6 million in venture funding from what is now Boston’s PAR Investment Partners, which also joined the latest round with another early venture investor, Augustus Ventures Limited.

By forming partnerships to finance new film conversion projects, Sandrew says Legend3D would share in revenue generated by 3D remakes of tried-and-true motion pictures. As an example, Legend3D screened a 4-minute preview of a 3D conversion of the 1986 blockbuster “Top Gun” in September at the International Broadcasting Convention in Amsterdam. The segment consisted mostly of Top Gun’s “danger zone” aerial flight sequence.

“We’ll work with any studio,” Sandrew says. “Paramount has been wonderful. We worked with them on Transformers and now Top Gun, and they’ve been great to work with.” He minimized the financial risk of sinking money into such partnerships, saying, “The movies we’re talking about are already proven entities, They’re iconic films like ‘Top Gun,’ and they still make money. When you do ‘Top Gun,’ there’s not much of a risk.”

With its new business initiative, Sandrew says he also expects Legend3D to expand the workforce at its San Diego headquarters, where the company currently employs 240 or so. “I’m not certain what our needs are yet,” Sandrew says.

At the same time, the company plans to continue working with studios on new film projects. For example, Sandrew says Legend3D helped to create some of the key sequences in “Hugo,” Martin Scorcese’s recently released fantasy adventure film.

Legend3D says its clients include Bay Films, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Imageworks, Walt Disney Studios, and Lionsgate. The company has completed 2D to 3D conversions of a variety of recent motion pictures, including “Hugo,” “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.”

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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