Panavision reels in Joe Dunton


Panavision has signed a letter of intent to purchase the camera inventory of Joe Dunton & Co., which maintains rental facilities in London and Wilmington, N.C. Industry veteran Joe Dunton and his son, Lester Dunton, will join Panavision's executive ranks upon completion of the transaction.

The pair also will continue their research and development efforts. JDC's innovations include its anamorphic lens system, as well as 35mm 20:1 zoom lens. The Dunton's are developing an HD back projection system.

Joe Dunton, who in June was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award at Cine Gear Expo, is credited with the development of the video assist. A member and current vp for the British Society of Cinematographers, he has received honors during his career including the Member of the Order of the British Empire in the 1998 Queen's New Year's Honors List for his services to the camera and film industry.

"It's a good move," Dunton said of the deal with Panavision, which pioneered the single lens reflex movie camera. He and Lester would have the opportunity to continue to innovate. "The industry needs so much capital investment. A small company cannot sustain that amount of money in research and development."

The announced deal includes all film camera equipment owned by JDC, along with an assortment of spherical and anamorphic lenses and camera accessories. While many details were not finalized, Panavision president and CEO Bob Beitcher said that the assets would be integrated with the Panavision business to expand inventory, and the brand JDC likely would be discontinued. "This gives us more equipment for the Europe and Asia/Pacific markets, which are very busy at the moment," he added.

Beitcher said the deal reflects a strategy to attract entrepreneurial leaders, as well as to acquire select assets. Panavision's film and digital acquisitions in recent years have included digital camera rental company Plus8 Digital; film equipment rental company Technovision France; and lighting, camera and studio rental facilities AFM Group.

The JDC deal is expected to close in October.