35mm Film Isn’t Dead!
It’s not dead yet.
Film – that is to say actual physical celluloid film – has been struggling to survive for many years now. In 2011, there was a massive format shift across the country, as the bulk of movie theaters moved from 35mm film projection to digital projection. Many filmmakers embraced the change, happy to be evolving with the medium. More vocal, however, were filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, J.J. Abrams, and Judd Apatow, who have been openly and repeatedly lamenting the withering of the 35mm format, a format that has been carrying and delivering the cinematic form for over a century. Film, many feel, simply looks and feels better than digital. And even if certain filmmakers and audiences prefer digital, most have argued that taking a vital tool like 35mm out of the toolbox can only hamstring filmmaking in the long run.
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Perhaps largely due to their efforts, and perhaps because of a general sense of tradition, Kodak – the primary manufacturer of physical film – has struck a deal with six major studios to continue to make film, according to IndieWire. Kodak has been the biggest sufferer in the medium shift, having lost almost all of their business over the course of the last decade. Kodak will now be providing the film for many upcoming releases, including J.J. Abrams’ Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the Marvel film Ant-Man, and the anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Last year, several Oscar-nominated films were made on 35mm (or even 70mm) including Foxcatcher, Into the Woods, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and of course Interstellar. Quentin Tarantino has contracts to ensure that any 35mm-capable theaters must show his films in that format. Digital is good for some things, but a flexibility in formats can only spell out a more robust future for movies.