It's been a long and bumpy road for Kodak and their film division. While they've emerged from bankruptcy, film sales have been in a free fall since 2006, and the company has considered closing its film production plant altogether. But a new proposal from studios, with support from filmmakers like Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and J.J. Abrams, will likely ensure that filmmakers at least have the choice to shoot film well into the future.
From The Hollywood Reporter:
“After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production. Kodak thanks these industry leaders for their support and ingenuity in finding a way to extend the life of film," Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement Wednesday.
Essentially, the studios will agree to buy a certain amount of film over a number of years. The numbers have not been released, but Kodak seems to feel it's enough to keep their business going. From the Wall Street Journal:
Kodak's new chief executive, Jeff Clarke, said the pact will allow his company to forestall the closure of its Rochester, N.Y., film manufacturing plant, a move that had been under serious consideration. Kodak's motion-picture film sales have plummeted 96% since 2006, from 12.4 billion linear feet to an estimated 449 million this year. With the exit of competitor Fujifilm Corp. last year, Kodak is the only major company left producing motion-picture film.
Film is certainly not dead, but it's been on life support for some time now, especially since medium and lower budget productions have mostly moved to digital acquisition. Less film production has also meant the closure of developing labs, and part of this deal is making sure that Fotokem, the last remaining 35mm motion picture lab in Hollywood, will remain open.
After this pact is over, it will be interesting to see what Kodak does with their film division, or whether the studios will band together again and help keep it alive. CEO Jeff Clarke hopes the division, which is only 10% of the overall company, can become profitable again by 2016.
Either way, the crisis has been temporarily averted, and we'll still be getting plenty of movies shot on celluloid at least for the next few years.