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» Film-Tech Forum ARCHIVE   » Community   » Film-Yak   » LucasFilm Sell 60% Share of THX to Creative Labs (Page 1)

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Author Topic: LucasFilm Sell 60% Share of THX to Creative Labs
Brad Miller

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 05-30-2002 05:13 AM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Text below from the website.

Exclusive: A 60% share of THX has been sold to Creative Labs for the sum of $8,000,000 – that is the news reaching us here at High Fidelity Review from a number of reliable industry sources.

The THX division of LucasFilm is responsible for schemes as diverse as commercial theatre alignment, hardware licensing (both commercial and domestic), playback technology development and software certification. The THX Theatre Program works with the exhibition and post-production community around the world to deliver the ultimate cinema experience by building certified theatres that adhere to comprehensive and proprietary THX standards and in the last few months, THX has expanded this program to incorporate digital cinema presentation.

In the home, the most recent introduction is THX Ultra2, an extension of existing THX licensing requirements, a set of playback chain specifications that aim to replicate the movie theatre experience at home through certified THX home theatre and multimedia products. THX also license DVD-Video and DVD-Audio players.

Above all else, THX have promoted themselves and the brand as the epitome of motion picture reproduction, a standard embraced by manufacturers and consumers in most markets, with the possible exception of the Far East. Recently however, analysts and technology journalists have been questioning the motives of THX, as the division was seen to move downmarket with the introduction of licensing for small rooms (THX Select), multimedia and even mobile audio products. If the news of a merger with Creative is true, and we have no reason to believe otherwise, consumers will undoubtedly further devalue the brand, especially as most naturally associate Creative Labs with their range of portable audio, budget loudspeaker, removable storage and multimedia products rather than high-end audio/video.

Singapore-based Creative was founded in 1981 and is famous for, amongst other things, its Sound Blaster range of PC sound cards. In 1988, the company opened a subsidiary in Milpitas, CA, from where Creative Labs, Inc. quickly became a major player in the lucrative American market.

Creative’s own corporate literature states that the company’s mission is “…to expand upon its leadership role in PDE, utilising innovative technology, broadband and leading-edge designs for technically progressive consumers and entertainment enthusiasts.” How this will affect the research and design teams at LucasFilm remains to be seen, but one would expect to see their existing close relationship between the motion picture industry and hardware manufacturers remain as the driving development audio/video force at the newly combined subsidiary, while Creative’s contacts in the multimedia market will undoubtedly expand the market for THX certified personal computers.

It is said that under the new agreement between LucasFilm and Creative, that the former will retain the right to veto any representatives of the new company and any new technologies it develops. This affectively means that LucasFilm have the final say on the personnel heading up the new LucasFilm/Creative enterprise and any subsequent licensing arrangements.

At the moment, this information is unconfirmed, but the deafening silence from the THX division of LucasFilm (Warren Mansfield, Christina Lohrisch, John Dahl et al) and their public relations agent Griffin PR (Terry Shea) when asked for their comments, speaks volumes.

Update: 01:45 BST 29/05/02: Creative’s public relations manager Phil O’Shaughnessy has responded to our request for more information. His reply, in its entirety:

“Thank you for your inquiry. As a company policy, Creative does not comment on rumors.”

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David Stambaugh
Film God

Posts: 4021
From: Eugene, Oregon
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 05-30-2002 05:14 PM      Profile for David Stambaugh   Author's Homepage   Email David Stambaugh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
60% of THX is only worth $8M?

If this sale goes through, it will be official: The THX stamp of approval will mean next to nothing, at least in the consumer market. Strictly a marketing gimmick.

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Adam Fraser
Master Film Handler

Posts: 499
From: Houghton Lake, MI, USA
Registered: Dec 2001

 - posted 05-30-2002 09:03 PM      Profile for Adam Fraser   Author's Homepage   Email Adam Fraser   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I was thinking the same as David, I thought that a company with that much brand recognition and quite a few services would be worth more than 14 or so million. I would bet there are quite a few theatres out there that cost more than that to build.

Adam Fraser

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Michael Gonzalez
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 790
From: Grand Island , NE USA
Registered: Sep 2000

 - posted 05-31-2002 02:22 PM      Profile for Michael Gonzalez   Email Michael Gonzalez   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Cool. When am I going to be able to buy a THX certified alarm clock?

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Michael Brown
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1522
From: Bradford, England
Registered: May 2001

 - posted 05-31-2002 02:27 PM      Profile for Michael Brown   Email Michael Brown   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
About a year after they release THX toasters

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Mike Olpin
Chop Chop!

Posts: 1852
From: Dallas, TX
Registered: Jan 2002

 - posted 05-31-2002 04:56 PM      Profile for Mike Olpin   Email Mike Olpin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
My keyboard is now THX certified. Every key stroke makes exactly the letter the keyboard engineer intended!

My promedia THX speakers just lost a lot of value.

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Charles Everett
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1470
From: New Jersey
Registered: May 2001

 - posted 06-06-2002 03:11 PM      Profile for Charles Everett   Email Charles Everett   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Bumping this up top thanks to the related thread in Film Handlers' Forum.

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Mark Gulbrandsen
Resident Trollmaster

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From: Music City
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-06-2002 06:43 PM      Profile for Mark Gulbrandsen   Email Mark Gulbrandsen   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Who cares???? Really??
I am re-installing a 5 plex in Aspen right now that had 4 of 5 screens THX certified. Our customer, like us, does not feel that 10 grand per screen is worth the name(even in Aspen!)so will not go for re-liscensing. Of course the THX houses will all be put back to spec and re-aligned with an R-2 so they will still sound as good and still meet THX specs.
Mark @ GTS

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John Walsh
Film God

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From: Connecticut, USA, Earth, Milky Way
Registered: Oct 1999

 - posted 06-06-2002 11:01 PM      Profile for John Walsh   Email John Walsh   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If someone has 4 of 5 screens THX certified, I think they get a significant discount, ie; much less than $10k each.

I do agree, though that the idea of certifying car amps and speakers cheapens what was orginally a really good concept.

But I also feel a lot of work goes into the initial engineering. It's not easy to take existing architect's drawings and ensure a high-quality sounding room. And they often have to re-engineer stuff on-the-fly; that takes time.

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John Hawkinson
Film God

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From: Cambridge, MA, USA
Registered: Feb 2002

 - posted 06-08-2002 07:30 PM      Profile for John Hawkinson   Email John Hawkinson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Somehow this seems really implausible to me; why would Lucasfilm care about $8 million? THat's got to be in the noise for them, and for George. And why would they want to get rid of the THX brand, something that seems so integrated into what George's public image seems to stand for.

I feel like we're missing some critical detail...


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Brad Miller

Posts: 17775
From: Plano, TX (36.2 miles NW of Rockwall)
Registered: May 99

 - posted 06-08-2002 07:49 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
"I feel like we're missing some critical detail..."

You and me both. It just doesn't add up. Isn't George a billionaire? Surely the THX name is worth a LOT more than $8 million.

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Ian Price
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Denver, CO
Registered: Jun 99

 - posted 06-09-2002 01:13 PM      Profile for Ian Price   Email Ian Price   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's simple,

In the theatrical exhibition world THX is a declining model. For the most part people are doing it right. Remember, when THX started, theatres thought it was all right to put in Mono, surround systems with 50 watts of power. Now, every time you call up a supplier you will be quoted something that is real close to THX spec. With Digital sound the proper requirement meets or exceeds the THX spec. Theatre companies know they don't need to pay Lucas to have great sound.

But in the home entertainment business, THX has great presence. In spite of Lucas' embracing video, I don't think he cares what happens in people’s homes. So he sold THX for $8 million. Do you think THX would be worth that in even 10 years from now? I think Lucas got out of this business just in time. But even if Creative owns 60%, Lucas can still drive the business if he wants to.

I don’t think Lucas Film needed $8 million but adding to the bottom line is always good business. I think it was a matter of getting out while the getting was good.

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Gordon McLeod
Film God

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From: Toronto Ontario Canada
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 - posted 06-09-2002 03:00 PM      Profile for Gordon McLeod   Email Gordon McLeod   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Ian said" Now, every time you call up a supplier you will be quoted something that is real close to THX spec. With Digital sound the proper requirement meets or exceeds the THX spec. Theatre companies know they don't need to pay Lucas to have great sound."

That I tend to disagree with I see more and more cut cornered theatres out there

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Dave Macaulay
Film God

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From: Toronto, Canada
Registered: Apr 2001

 - posted 06-09-2002 10:47 PM      Profile for Dave Macaulay   Email Dave Macaulay   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
It's easy to wire up a bunch of "THX quality" equipment and end up with a craphole theatre.
What they provide is total design specifications and if you follow them you will get a great cinema. Simple.
Some of the equipment certification may be a bit silly - if you get good amps they won't sound any better for having a THX Approved sticker. Where it pays off is when the equipment list meets the accountants. Demanding THX approval eliminates some of the "lowest bidder" crap.


LucasFilm Sell THX Division – More Details
More details about the sale of THX are reaching us here at High Fidelity Review.

Last week we exclusively broke the news of the sale of THX by LucasFilm to Creative Labs., and now we’re in a position to provide more information thanks to Terry Shea, Vice President of Griffin Public Relations.

Our original story was correct; a 60% share of THX has been sold, but not just to Creative. A new company has been formed, it will become known as THX Ltd., Lucasfilm remains an investor, as is Creative Technology (parent company of Creative Labs.) and there are also several, undisclosed private investors.

As yet the specific percentages of ownership have not been disclosed, but we do know that no one individual investor or company has a majority share in THX Ltd. However, as Creative is a publicly held company and is accountable to its shareholders, specifics about their part in THX Ltd., and the amount of their financial investment will become known when their own balance sheet is published.

Terry was quick to inform us that it is “…business as usual - all THX programs (professional and consumer) remain in place.”

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Rory Burke
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 181
From: Burbank, CA, USA
Registered: Jun 2000

 - posted 06-10-2002 03:27 AM      Profile for Rory Burke   Email Rory Burke   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Well I think that this news shouldn't be too big of a surprise. I left THX almost two years ago just when things in my opinion were going down hill. It seemed that it was tough for THX to get domestic contracts let alone renewing their existing ones as those contracts were dropping like flies; and international contracts just werent happening at an acceptable level. I believe that since about two years ago to present THX has been trying to maintain its grip as an industry standard leader by trying to venture out into other venues like mobile, computer, and pm3 certification however as a business THX wasn't being operated smartly. In terms of survival and hope this merger is probably the best thing to happen now that there is an argument that running the company in its previous ways was just not economically feasible. I've tested over 300 theaters and studios during my two year tour at Lucasfilm THX and I should say I was one of the few whom actually aimed speakers; A-chained, B-chained and certified them to the highest standards and did not skimp on any part of the THX (SMPTE standard) certification. I've failed theaters that were perfect but for ex. 2ms off at 125hz during RT-60 measurements or perhaps 1db above NC30. I have even failed theaters that were acoustically within specs but whos screen illumination was not at the 16+/- ft lamberts spec or RP-40 check revealed more than 5% distortion etc. I did my best and always made sure that I represented THX at the professional level it is as a company. The THX concept cannot be argued against; its implementation (well I'll leave that to all of you to decide and you folks are not dumb by all means and you know when things are not done right) has had obvioius flaws. All I can say is from where it was to where it could be THX can't go but up.


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