Kodak's Film Division Will Likely Be Profitable in 2016 Thanks to Directors Like Nolan & Tarantino
Film as a physical format is long from dead.
That's according to Kodak's CEO Jeff Clarke, who expects their film business to be profitable in 2016 after restructures and three quarters of breaking even in 2015 (which comes after losing $100 million a year for some time). Earlier this year, Kodak and the major film studios, along with film advocates like Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Quentin Tarantino, and Martin Scorsese, reached an agreement to ensure the survival of the format, and it's clear that it's working.
Unfortunately, it's that processing that has been a far bigger issue than the actual medium. While film is in great supply, since labs have been shut down left and right, there's almost nowhere left to process large volumes of celluloid that are produced during a decent-sized feature film. Ed Lachman, who shot the film Carol on Super 16mm, recently spoke about this issue with THR:
If Kodak is going to make film, we also need labs to process the film. Right now, the New York Film Lab [a partnership between Deluxe and Technicolor that was created to respond to film’s shrinking footprint] is closed. They were going to throw out all the equipment. I inquired about it, and the general manager let me have the lab equipment. I have it in storage. We can develop film at Fotokem in Los Angeles, which is a very good lab. ... But there's a market and [we need] a lab on the Eastern Seaboard of the U.S.
Kodak is working to improve its mobile labs, as one of the major components to keeping film alive is the ability to process it, which is costly to say the least. The company thinks the future is bright for the format, though, especially with so much renewed interest. Films like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Interstellar, and The Hateful Eight have all been shot in part or in whole on 35mm and 65mm, and they've surely spent quite a bit of money on film stock and processing. The most recent Star Wars film bucked the digital trend started by George Lucas and went back to film, and it looks like the next two major releases in the series, Episodes 8 and 9, will also be shot on film.
Either way, from the way Kodak is talking, film is here to stay for the foreseeable future.