Thanks to the lobbying of Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Paul Thomas Anderson and a few others, you can take film stock off the endangered list. Kodak announced today it will supply 20th Century Fox, Disney, Warner Bros, Universal, Paramount and Sony film for big screen and TV projects.
Said Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke: “Film has long been…blah, blah, blah, blah.” I cut him off because Kodak’s self congratulatory announcement doesn’t address the uphill battle that a resurrection of film stock faces.
A few powerhouse directors will keep this mode alive, and pictures from Star Wars: Episode VII and Mission: Impossible 5 to Batman V Superman and Jurassic Park were shot in film and Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight is shooting in glorious 70mm. The big hurdle is the fact that exhibitors — and studios — are totally invested in digital, because it’s efficient and cheap. And even though Tarantino has said that going to a theater for a digitally shot and digitally projected film is like watching TV in public, a lot of viewers don’t really notice the difference, at least not enough to complain.
In an interview I did with Harvey Weinstein at Sundance, he said that TWC’s distribution ace Erik Lomas now spends all his time now scouring for projectors and parts to try and compile as many 70mm-capable projectors as possible for the global rollout of Hateful Eight later this year. All this seems laudable and there is a romantic notion to all of it, but that’s not going to happen with 35mm projectors. The places with those projectors are the B-houses which can’t afford digital conversion and those projectors scratch the crap out of film stock anyway after the second or third showing. I’m told you’ll get some quality improvement shooting on film and showing it through digital, but is it enough to warrant this so-called resurgence?
Until Kodak gets into projector business in a big way and brings exhibs aboard, isn’t there an element here of being determined to keep the stagecoach running, even as you watch the train, filled with passengers, speeding past you?