Kodak Strikes Deal With Movie Studios To Keep Film Alive


With the help of Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and Judd Apatow, a deal is in the works to keep the fledgling film business (that is, the actual production of motion-picture film) from disappearing completely.

The Wall Street Journal reports that several of the major studios have worked out an arrangement with Kodak to purchase a predetermined amount of film a year for the foreseeable future, regardless of whether or not a director demands its usage. If you are an old-school film aficionado, who doesn’t want to see the complete replacement of film with digital, or if you don’t want to see the demise of Kodak, this is awesome news (as someone who is from Rochester, where Kodak is headquartered, this was very much celebrated).

Kodak is the only remaining producer of film stock, meaning if the company or its film production branch disappeared, so would the option of filmmaking on celluloid (Heck, even the term ‘filmmaking’ would become anachronistic, sadly). The company has been hurting in recent years, having gone through bankruptcy while witnessing its film branch- the product upon which it prospered- dwindle in profit and demand. Between 2006 and 2014, Kodak’s sales of film stock fell a massive 96%, from 12.4 billion feet of film stock to 449.3 million. That means this year they produced 1/28th of motion picture film compared to just eight years ago.

So, this is good news for Kodak. But this is also good news for those who wish to film on, well, actual film. That may not be too many people, but the filmmakers who are champions of the medium have a lot of clout in the movie industry. As mentioned, this includes Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and Judd Appatow, and they are a few of the most well-established, well-known, and well-respected directors working today. (Coincidentally, each also has a film coming out this year: Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Nolan’s Interstellar, Apatow’s Trainwreck, and, of course, Abrams’ Star Wars: Episode VII. And yes, all of those films was/is/will be utilizing film). Tarantino and Nolan, in particular, have been out-spoken and passionate about their preference for using film stock and their disdain on it being replaced by digital.

This isn’t to say anything is wrong with digital. Digital allows more people to enter into filmmaking, with cameras and editing programs readily available. It shortens production time, as no reel has to be switched out every few minutes, allowing for more takes in a shorter amount of time. It also allows for movies to be transported much more easily. It makes the post-production process, including editing and the addition of visual effects, less time-consuming and tedious. Also, it saves money (mainly in production value, with shorter production schedules).

But all that isn’t to say one is necessarily better than the other. It is a preference, one held by the filmmaker. And if a director would rather use film to make his or her movie, or prefers digital to showcase their vision, they should have that option.

Whether you are a proponent of film, an advocate for digital, or if you really don’t notice or care, this deal is all around great news. Digital will be just fine, but no one wants to see the namesake of the industry disappear. The movie industry is thriving, but the film industry is not, and was almost out the door, so we’re definitely glad to see that it is being invited back.