Orange County billionaire Jim Jannard is going Hollywood.
The founder of sunglasses maker Oakley Inc. and, more recently, Red Digital Cinema Camera Co., has acquired the former Ren-Mar Studios on Cahuenga Boulevard to support his rapidly expanding digital movie camera venture.
Renamed Red Studios Hollywood, the space will be used in part to demonstrate its camera’s capabilities and for company events, Jannard told the Orange County Business Journal. Jannard, who rarely grants media interviews, declined further comment.
Jannard, who is believed to be financing the deal out of his own pocket, paid $25 million for the studio, according to sources.
The historic studio, which includes five remodeled stages, production offices and rehearsal studios, once housed DesiLu Productions and has been used to film “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld” as well as a number of other TV shows and music videos.
The company’s signature product, the Red One camera, has been lauded by filmmakers for its versatility, high quality and low price; starting at $17,500, the camera costs about one-eighth that of the nearest competitor.
Jannard, who in 1975 started Oakley designing handgrips for motorcycles, has an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion. He sold the sunglasses giant in 2007 for $2.1 billion.
A noted photography buff, Jannard, now in his 60s, founded Red in 2005 after growing frustrated with the costly and complicated digital video cameras on the market. Red One debuted in 2006.
The camera has quickly caught on with some filmmakers, including Steven Soderbergh, who has used it on five films, such as “The Girlfriend Experience.” Additionally, the cameras have been used for some of “The Lovely Bones.”
Next week, the company plans to unveil two cameras – Scarlet, a $20,000 model, and Epic, which will go for upwards of $30,000 – at its new studio.
Headquartered in Lake Forest, Red owns another site in Nevada where it plans to build a movie studio and camera manufacturing facility.
Red Studios Hollywood will house the company’s customer support team, nicknamed the Bomb Squad. Previously, broken cameras had to be sent down to Orange County for repairs.
The company also expects to lease out the space for film and TV production.
Orange County Business Journal reporter Michael Volpe contributed to this report.
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