Magazine article Variety

Reinventing a Storied Legacy

Magazine article Variety

Reinventing a Storied Legacy

Article excerpt

A Hollywood legend pivots from its colorful past to the future By Debra Kaufman

It's one of the great, glorious names from Hollywood's Golden Age. It conjures magical nights watching epics unspool on giant screens in rococo movie palaces. The word itself entered the language, as slang for "vivid."

Steven Spielberg is one of the millions whose pulse quickened at the word's very mention.

"You have to be almost my age to understand the excitement when a bigscreen feature film boasted in its main title credits 'Color by Technicolor,' " he says. "It was a promise kept by thousands of Hollywood productions when great cameramen captured the natural wonders of the American landscape with colors so bright they could singe your eyes and make them moist.

"More than Cinemascope or 3D or even before Super Technirama 70 and Imax, Technicolor was Hollywood royalty, and could draw an audience in its early years as much as a Clark Gable, Errol Flynn or Judy Garland could."

Technicolor's processes and people were among Hollywood's greatest legacies. But as the 21st century began, it was an analog-technology company facing the dawn of digital. By 2008, it was drowning in debt. The financial statement that year for Technicolor's parent company Thomson (which has since taken the Technicolor name) listed a net loss of more than $2.5 billion.

That was the year current CEO Frederic Rose took the helm, and he saw that no matter how great its name, Technicolor (along with its parent Thomson) needed to reinvent itself, and fast, or go the way of Pan Am and Polaroid.

"Sometimes the weight of the legacy is there, and what has been exciting was to get an opportunity to move beyond that legacy," says Rose. So he and his righthand man, Vince Pizzica, senior exec VP, strategy and technology - who came to Technicolor as a team from telecom company Alcatel-Lucent - gave Technicolor a mission for the digital age.

"We understood that bringing entertainment to mobile phones and computers would have to be where this company would go," Pizzica says. "We need to deliver directly to consumers."

That reinvention of Technicolor, from a professional film services company to a digital technology company serving pros and the public alike, had two parts. …

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