Five Major Movie Studios Ink Deals With Kodak, Keep Film Alive

Five Major Movie Studios Ink Deals With Kodak, Keep Film Alive

You might think that of all places, the big budget studios of Hollywood would have switched over to totally digital workflows by now, but surprisingly, that is not the case. In fact, five of the largest studios in Hollywood recently inked deals with Kodak for more film, ensuring its usage for years to come.

Disney, NBC Universal, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros. all signed new deals with Kodak recently. The terms of the deals were undisclosed, but they nonetheless signify Hollywood's commitment to the older technology. This is not the first time studios have committed to such contracts in the digital era; a similar deal was reached in 2015, with film being championed by some of Hollywood's biggest names, such as Quentin Tarantino and J.J. Abrams. Those contracts are rumored to have been for two years, while the new versions are believed to be more substantial, indicating Hollywood's commitment to keeping film alive. While the vast majority of professionals shoot digital nowadays, film maintains a devoted (if small) fandom, but certainly, adding Hollywood's support should help to keep it going.

How do you feel about Hollywood throwing so much long-term support behind film? Is it unnecessarily dragging its feet in embracing evolution, or is it warranted? 

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Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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As for the last questions: I see nothing negative about this and fully support directors who want to shoot film. Seeing THE HATEFUL EIGHT and THE MASTER in 70mm were two amazing - and rare - experiences. But even if viewing a digital projection/at home on TV, I love what Tarantino, or PTA, or Nolan do with film. Their movies look phenomenal.

It's not an issue of Hollywood forcing film on directors - god knows they prefer digital productions - so I can't see any kind of negative from keeping film alive for those who want to use it.

For me personally - since I work in film production - if I were to shoot a movie on film, it would either be Super 16 or 65mm. I find that the differences between 35mm film and digital are so small, especially if not viewing a film projection, that it isn't worth the extra cost or work. On the other hand, I love Super 16... some semi-recent examples that really show how lovely 16mm can be.... THE HURT LOCKER, Alex Ross Perry's films like LISTEN UP PHILIP and QUEEN OF EARTH, Aronofsky's BLACK SWAN and THE WRESTLER. Those movies wouldn't be the same if shot digitally.

Anyway, I'm happy if film can be around for as long as there are directors who want to use it.

They should do as they want. I don't care.

Not just Christopher Nolan then?

Not sure exactly what you mean - but many directors stood up to support the continued availability to shoot on film. Nolan, JJ Abrams, Tarantino were the most vocal. But others, like Paul Thomas Anderson also felt the same.

Pretty sure I once heard Anderson say if he was ever forced to go to digital he'd stop making movies. That was probably ten years ago, so not sure how he feels now - though he still shoots exclusively film.

The Coens also shot on film religiously until THE BALLAD OF BUSTER SCRUGGS for Netflix (likely Netflix was the reason they went digital). Bruno Delbonnel (DP of Buster Scruggs) said there were things they liked and didn't like about shooting digital. Because of the weather apparently digital made it much easier, but he's not sure if they'll shoot digital again or return to film.

This will keep the economies of scale behind film production alive and film available for everyone :-)

true that, with some sad exceptions though: some great emulsions such as the Kodachrome are no longer produced because nobody uses them anymore! :-(

Not sure many would rush back to the half stop exposure latitude of Kodachrome and a big price tag :-)

in that case i think you need to study a little more about Exposure Latitude, especially that of the Kodachrome, which is not limited to a "half stop" really!

(half to 2/3rd stops is the amount you can safely underexpose ((or occasionally overexpose)) a Kodachrome film's emulsion at the time of photography, while its EL is at least 3.5 stops either way, especially if you're lucky ((or influential enough)) to get your Kodachrome rolls processed on the first batch the lab puts through the machine)) ...)

besides, there's always the bracketing trick to be done, with the exposures scanned and recombined later as in digital HDR tricks that are based exactly on the good old and at times truly necessary bracketing trick used in films ... (bracketing still is needed in digital photography as well, especially with the limited DR of CMOS sensors ...)

price tag? if you want a Rolls Royce, you HAVE TO pay more, WAY MORE that is, for it otherwise, there are many decently priced regular cars out there too ... and they're great, when considering you don't always need an RR to get around and about when grocery shopping ... but when you do need something fancier, well, RR and the like luxury automobiles are the only options! ;-)

i'm hoping Kodachrome in large format (larger than 4"×5" that is) also make a comeback someday! yes, a greedy one here!) :D

Good lord, can we let film die already? The materials to make and process film are extremely hazardous to the environment. Also digital surpassed film in terms of image quality a while ago.

Your last statement is incredibly subjective. While I think digital and Super 35 film are basically on par in terms of ultimate end quality - with many advantages in favor of digital in terms of cost, flexibility, etc etc - I think Super 16mm and 70mm still offer a lot that digital cannot match.

And IMAX is an entirely different level that digital can't touch.

No reason to "let film die" - the standard for video is now digital productions, so if you like digital, the studios will be pleased with you. Let the filmmakers that can shoot film do it.

Although I would like to see film survive, it has long been surpassed by digital in resolution, noise, and dynamic range range. It's no contest anymore.

That's not really important however. It's what you do with any medium that matters. However modern film users, be they still or motion, aren't really using film as a photo-chemical medium, because all post work is done from digital copies, and that just takes you back into the digital domain, with digital's colorspace.

Film and digital have overlapping but different colorspaces, and the photo-chemical process will impart generation hits as you go through so the look is visually diffent in the end result. If you really want to use film, stay in the photo-chemical domain from start to finish. I don't see that happening tho, so the "film look" is nothing more than a romantic fantasy.

Depends on who you're talking about. Paul Thomas Anderson does everything photochemically.

That's the way to do it if you're gonna do it with film. That's a small crowd tho. ;-)

your right about hazardous materials required to make and process film material but there are ways to reduce or even totally remove those hazards, quite easily and effortlessly that is! besides, the manufacturing processes required to make digital sensors and other electronic components used in digital cameras aren't any less hazardous at all! that's pretty much true about low-power consuming light bulbs for example, that use mercury and other dangerous material in them ...

It's great to still have some movies being made on film. It's like "unplugged" albums that return to outdated, old-fashioned acoustic guitars from time to time.

well, aside from the fact that some people may prefer to work with the 'nostalgia' medium of film over the more modern digital imagery (now itself at least a couple of decades old btw!), the fact that 35mm film equals (if not supersedes) 8K video and 65mm film is at least 15K in resolution (by digital standards) then there's no doubt film is going to stay for quite some time even after 8K digital video becomes mainstream ...

no one says digital video or photography is bad, in fact, it can do many things film cannot, but in terms of resolution and clarity of images and color tonality, film is still the preferred medium, especially in still photography and when using large format (larger than 4"×5" that is) film sheets ...