Movie Studios Are Forcing Hollywood to Abandon 35mm Film. But the Consequences of Going Digital Are Vast, and Troubling
It costs about $1,500 to print one copy of a movie on 35 mm film and ship it to theaters in its heavy metal canister....By comparison, putting out a digital copy costs a mere $150.
"Simply put," he said, "If you don't make the decision to get on the digital train soon, you will be making the decision to get out of the business."
The ultimate pricetag of digital equipment is hidden to exhibitors right now. Little expenses add up.
And digital is notoriously temperamental....By contrast, the Simplex XL 35mm projectors at New Beverly are going strong at 60 years old.
The main problem is format obsolescence....."In the last 10 years of digitality, we've gone through 20 formats!" he says. "Every 18 months we're getting a new format!"
Five years after the first Toy Story came out, producers wanted to release it on DVD. When they went back to the original animation files, they realized that 20 percent of the data had been corrupted and was now unusable.
One afternoon, someone accidentally hit the delete key sequence on the drive. Imagine the horror: 20 people's work for two years, erased in 20 seconds. Animators were able to reconstitute the missing elements purely by chance: Pixar's visual arts director had just had a baby, and she'd brought a copy of the movie — the only remaining copy — with her to work on at home.
Because of all these factors, the notion that digital is cheaper is a myth....It discovered that it's actually 11 times more expensive to preserve a 4K digital master than film.
The New Beverly still plays traditional reel-to-reel 35mm, and Tarantino has said that the day the cinema puts in a digital projector is the day he burns it to the ground.
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