Inventing Innovation: Keith Willis and Jon Heberling’s Innovative Theatre


 Fueled by the desire to never stop learning, especially about the latest in technological advancements and unprecedented creative design, Willis and Heberling know what it takes to stay ahead of the game.

The movies have long been a keen reflection of cultural evolution. As such, the commonplace of “going to the movies” has metamorphosed with our ever-changing society. From the 1940s, known as the early heydays of Hollywood glamour, to the the illustrious shenanigans of the drive-in during the ’50s, to the present, the process of taking in a flick is constantly evolving. In the past decade, technological advances have significantly developed, enabling the commonly accepted attitude that desires should be fulfilled, and done so instantly. What does this mean for the movies? It means that rather then us civilians making an effort to go to the cinema, our favorite action heroes and starlets should-and will-come to us. Innovative Theatres makes it happen.

This inimitable brand has taken the home theater market by storm with a seamless blend of state-of-the-art technology and unparalleled design. The collaborative efforts between Keith Willis and Jon Heberling are pivotal in the evolution of Innovative Theatre’s immense success. Long time friends and business partners, both Willis and Heberling’s backgrounds serviced them with the tools necessary to not only succeed but to excel in the early emerging home theater market. The duo met in California in the early ’80s; Willis was serving as the president of KWA, an integration company, and Heberling was a designer and project manager with a Southern California architectural design and building firm. Since their first joint-effort project, Willis and Heberling, accompanied by a talented, dedicated, and enthusiastic team, have been taking the private theater world to elevated levels, and have achieved immense success in doing so. “In the late ’80s, our principal interest was to explore the creative aspects of blending architecture and technology within the new emerging field of private cinemas,” Willis explains. “It was not long before we realized that our combined skills were unique in the marketplace.”

It is this unique combination of excellence in technology and design that has placed Innovative Theatres at the top of the home entertainment market. Its theaters are designed with three main features in mind: the utmost luxury, state-of-the-art technology, and customization for the most discerning patrons. As such, these theaters are common throughout many a mega-mansion. Due to high demand, Innovative Theatres generally limits its production to approximately 12 home theaters per year to ensure the utmost quality and dedication to each individual project. With budgets often exceeding $1 million, there is ample room for the Innovative team to optimize its creative visions, resulting in uniquely stunning theaters. With new technology constantly emerging, Willis and Heberling make it a priority to keep up with the constantly evolving market. “In this industry, the emergence of new technology is a weekly occurrence and keeping up with it is a consistent challenge,” Willis says. “Media servers today can store Blu-ray discs on a hard drive and allow one to check their e-mail at the same time. Also, new outdoor entertainment technology has emerged such as water vapor and smoke used as rear-projection film screens.” A current example of Innovative’s involvement in new technological trends is its accommodation to environmentally friendly practices, as the company now offers a variety of materials and textiles that are environmentally sustainable.
Fueled by the desire to never stop learning, especially about the latest in technological advancements and unprecedented creative design, Willis and Heberling know what it takes to stay ahead of the game. “Our sense of artistry in a technological field has really given us an edge,” says Willis. “Jon and I have an education in fine arts in addition to our technical degrees.¬† As a result, there is a very strong creative aspect to all of Innovative’s designs. We are one of the very few private theater companies that are able to provide full service design, engineering, fabrication, and project management all in-house.”

With the combined artistic vision and technological minds of Heberling and Willis, Innovative Theatres has truly reinvented our ancestral pastime of going to the movies.