These days, almost everything you watch on TV and in theatres is shot digitally. But because Hollywood still needs film sometimes, the biggest motion picture companies in the world are banding together to keep the lights on in Kodak’s Rochester motion picture film plant.
The WSJ reports the pending deal between the world’s biggest movie studios and Kodak. The details are still being finalised, but basically the studios, including Warner, Universal and Disney, will agree to buy a certain quantity of the film every year, regardless of whether or not they’re going to use it. That seems like a pretty desperate measure, but Hollywood didn’t have another option since Fujifilm stopped producing motion picture film last year. Kodak is their last resort.
Indeed, letting film production stop really isn’t possible yet. According to the Journal, some of the biggest directors personally lobbied their financiers to come to save Kodak:
Among the big name directors who lobbied the heads of studios to help find a solution were Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow, and J.J. Abrams, who is currently shooting “Star Wars Episode VII” on film.
Kodak has been in serious trouble since the advent of digital imaging. In 2012, the company filed for bankruptcy, laying off nearly 50,000 employees and closing 13 manufacturing plants and 130 processing labs. According to the WSJ, the company’s motion picture film sales have plummeted 96 per cent in 10 years, from 12.4 billion feet to just 449 million feet.
It’s amazing to see some of the biggest and most powerful media corporations come together to save something like film. The nostalgia of it! Yes, film has a grain and colour profile you’re just not going to get from digital. But it’s also a painfully slow medium to work with, and one you can bet some executives wish they could just be done with already. We’ll probably never know how close we were to losing film forever — or at least, not until the next such deal needs to be negotiated in a few years. [WSJ]