Hollywood Studios, Directors Help Keep Kodak Motion-Picture Film Alive
New deals with Hollywood firms keep Kodak motion-picture film afloat.
The use of film in big budget Hollywood movies has been on a steady decline for the better part of a decade now, but some of the greatest directors of our time aren't letting the medium slip away just yet.
Five major studios are expected to reach film purchasing deals with Kodak in the near future, according to The Wall Street Journal. Kodak's motion-picture film factory in New York is the last major manufacturer of the cellulose wonder.
The studios include Warner Bros., Universal, Paramount, Walt Disney Studios, and Weinstein Company.
The studios are buying set quantities of film in advance, without knowing for certain how many future projects will be shot on the medium.
Kodak originally sought direct investment from Hollywood powers, but that proposition was shot down earlier this year. It wasn't until several superstar directors stepped in that distributors got financially involved. Quentin Tarantino, who shoots on film, and owns the New Beverly theater in Los Angeles, lobbied Weinstein Company personally. J.J. Abrams (who is shooting Star Wars: Episode VII on film), and Christopher Nolan were also involved in similar meetings.
Film sales have dropped significantly since 2006, down to just 449 million feet in 2014 from 12.4 billion feet. The studio deals should keep Kodak in the motion-picture film business for at least a few years -- good news for all those working in the company's Rochester, New York film plant.
Digital is so much easier to work with. It lets the director see footage right after it's been shot, is way less of a pain for post production, easier to make backup copies, far less volatile to light and other environmental hazards, and easier and cheaper for distribution copies to ship(Just send one reusable, durable hard drive to each theater, no need to send multiples drives for more then one booking at each location like film, too). No wonder theaters and film makers are buying hyper expensive projectors and cameras even with slowing box office sales. It hits the bank account softer in the long run and is less of a headache.
Film is hyper expensive, too. The cost for film for a 90 minute movie the distributor sends to theaters is around $1000(if it hasn't gone up) per copy, so if a major release is opening at over 3,000 screens across a country, the distributor is paying for $3,000,000 in film alone. I don't even want to imagine the costs of higher quality shooting film and using it for take after take, along with the risk of overexposure I previously mentioned. Shooting on film is quickly becoming an artistic choice few directors like the three mentioned in the article are willing to make.
It's still good someone is supporting Kodak. Even after movies are pretty much shot solely on digital cameras, there's still the nostalgia of the watching 24fps from cellulose at one of the few classic film festivals and theaters across the world. Also, it gives everyone at the plant time to find a new job/retire. It's still sad Kodak's old execs didn't see digital as a future threat to both their professional and consumer markets 20 years ago and invest in their own digital tech more.
I'm glad that it's being kept alive. It's not that I mind digital cinema much, when done well it can look very good, but real 35mm negative has an organic texture and rich color balance that you can only (poorly) emulate with digital sensors. That look really lends itself well to certain projects, especially period pieces. Even scanned for digital projection or Blu-ray distribution, you can still easily tell when a movie was made with real film.