January 22, 2014

Paramount Will No Longer Make 35mm Film Prints

This week the LA TIMES reports that Paramount Pictures has officially announced that it will no longer release its films on actual film. ANCHORMAN II would be the last of its movies to hit theaters as standard 35mm release prints and, conversely, THE WOLF OF WALL STREET would be the first of its flicks to be distributed only digitally. This is big news and marks the beginning of a big transition for the major studios that began nearly 10 years ago with the introduction of digital projection technology.

Originally, digital projection was seen as a potential boon to indie filmmakers. In summer of 2003, BOYS LIFE 4 (a project I executive produced which included my short BUMPING HEADS) was released digitally in 20 cinemas across the county. It saved a lot of money on the cost of striking film prints but, at that point, it limited our release somewhat as a lot of theaters were not yet equipped for digital screening. A decade later, some indie cinemas are still trying to make that expensive upgrade because if they don't, they may have to go out of business.

The NEW YORKER has put together an interesting and beautifully shot short film about such a theatre in Hudson, NY. The Fairview is a small 3 screen art house that shows indie fare but is struggling with the upgrade. Fortunately, the local community there has helped support the transition but it might not be enough to make it happen. A compelling look at the changes and challenges in commercial cinema today.

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