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Paramount drops 35mm film, will release movies in digital format only

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 20 Jan 2014 8:57 User comments (7)

Paramount drops 35mm film, will release movies in digital format only Paramount Pictures has become the first major studio to drop film as its distribution method, moving to digital-only for its U.S. releases.
The studio started its plan with the recent release of the blockbuster "The Wolf of Wall Street," with Paramount letting theater owners know that the comedy "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues," (released last month) would be the last to be released on 35mm film.

"It's of huge significance because Paramount is the first studio to make this policy known," said Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. "For 120 years, film and 35 mm has been the format of choice for theatrical presentations. Now we're seeing the end of that. I'm not shocked that it's happened, but how quickly it has happened."

There are about 8 percent of theaters in the U.S. that have not yet embraced digital and only play traditional film, despite the huge added cost. Digital distribution costs around $100 while film prints cost between $1000 and $2000 per movie. Internationally, Paramount will still ship film, as most theaters (especially in Europe and Latin America) cannot support digital.

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7 user comments

121.1.2014 12:33

Some people/organizations just can't let go old things/ways.

That 8 percent are just morons.

222.1.2014 4:43

The 4K digital format used in theaters, has the picture quality of a 1.85:1 flat film (not CinemaScope/wide screen).

The 2K digital system used in many early adopters is even lesser quality.

There is no digital system that can resolve a 5 perf 70mm image
(Todd-AO / Panavision 70).

The present digital I-Max is called Lie-Max as it is very inferior to 15/70 I-Max film. Even with 2 x 2K digital projectors I-Max uses for 3D, is inferior to film.

The small screens of the multi-plex and the inferior quality of Deluxe film prints is well known to they who handle film prints. Deluxe ran their print line 24/7, kept their chemicals at higher temperatures, to speed-up printing. Deluxe is famous for cutting corners to meet a price point. What you think is Technicolor ceased to exist close to 8 years ago. They ship film and hard drives, and purchased Deluxe from Fox.

All this accomplished was the illusion digital looked better. It looked better by design and the lack of skilled projectionists.

I well expect the digital camp to not like my statements. As I have 55 years of projection/sound design and installation experience including troubleshooting for every 35 and 70mm projection system, I know better.

I installed the first film platter in the USA in 1972, and knew exhibition would change...Already theater owners are becoming aware of the costs of anything with digital projection.

The general rule: The least expensive digital service call is about the same as the most costly film projector service call.

In Europe I worked on a holographic taking and projection system under development in 1975, getting true color was almost done. Some of you may recall f/x in Star Wars and Logan's Run. The firm developing that exited the film business, and part of that became the CD/DVD/BR.

The digital movies save the film companies a lot of $ in print costs and storage. Motion pictures, even digital are archived on Eastman archival film stock with a life of 150 years...and Hollywood has burnt through 40 different digital encoding systems before settling on the present--about 5 years too early.

322.1.2014 8:08

No doubt you have a point...

I assume you say it's 5 years too early because of the higher resolutions in the pipeline? Like CDs they settled on a standard too early?

I'm not that impressed that a standard that probably looks fine in a home setting is exactly the same as what's shown at the cinema.


Its a lot easier being righteous than right.


DSE VZ300-
Zilog Z80 CPU, 32KB RAM (16K+16K cartridge), video processor 6847, 2KB video RAM, 16 colours (text mode), 5.25" FDD

422.1.2014 12:20

Man...............you know your projector/film equipment!

PROPS!!! :)

523.1.2014 1:48

As digital audio goes, no matter how great the sampling rate, the resulting waveform is a square and not a true sine wave. This is why highs sound like a tin can, and bass is muddy.

One Boston Light and Sound field service engineer, remarked to me. I wish we had more magnetic striped sound on film, I am tired of inferior digital.

The reason magnetic audio fell into disuse: Dolby. It is much cheaper to not have to mag stripe and record audio. The recording is done in real time, and played back, if any problems arise, the reel has to be erased and re-recorded.

Dolby got their start in cinema, by licensing the SQ quad encoding from CBS to apply the encoded audio, for theater use. The rest is history. I use a Dolby CP200 / MPU1 and 8 x 100W power amps...big kids toys..

623.1.2014 1:59

Originally posted by hearme0:
Man...............you know your projector/film equipment!

PROPS!!! :)
Third and last generation(IATSE) to work in cinema projection/sound.
My grandfather taught me, at age 2 I had my own spot at the bench where he repaired projection equipment. Of all my fields I enjoyed the peace and quiet of the projection room, and putting the best possible picture on the screen.

Digital projection runs around 50 to 80 K...Sony is popular with exhibitors because it is nothing down and pay forever. As quality goes, Barco w/ Kinoton extras is better.

The paper thin OLED screens will render the digital projector, useless, when size limits are overcome. Little difference in Home and cinema, today.

723.1.2014 7:17

I was an IATSE projectionist and always made my own tweaks to the Dolby sound equipment. I was shocked when an engineer came in one day to 'calibrate' the Dolby systems and all he did was take electrical measurements from the hardware itself to make any adjustments, NEVER actually going down to the theaters to see what it sounded like. I re-tweaked them after he left. ;-)

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