Eastman Kodak broke ground in 1888 as a photography company, and though it did not invent 35mm film—that credit goes to Thomas Edison—it has gone on to become synonymous with the format. Some of the most iconic movies have been shot with its celluloid, and even within the digital era, Kodak has seen a resurgence after filing for bankruptcy thanks to studio deals and directors committed to the visual medium. In 2020 alone, projects from Christopher Nolan, Spike Lee, and Judd Apatow have all shot with Kodak.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news, Kodak has received a $765 million government loan to expedite domestic production of drugs to treat a variety of medical conditions and loosen the country's reliance on foreign sources. The loan is from the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation and is a first of its kind under the Defense Production Act, which will be used to produce ingredients for generic drugs.
With the influx of funding, the one time inventor of 16mm film has opened a division called Kodak Pharmaceuticals. Once running, the company says the new arm will produce up to 25% of active pharmaceutical ingredients used in non-biologic, non-antibacterial, generic pharmaceuticals while supporting 360 direct jobs and an additional 1,200 indirectly.
Kodak Executive Chairman Jim Continenza said the company "is proud to be a part of strengthening America’s self-sufficiency in producing the key pharmaceutical ingredients we need to keep our citizens safe." Kodak isn't the only company with ties to the entertainment industry that's reaching to the medical field. Fujifilm was awarded a $265 million contract to expand production of a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
How the new business strategy will directly affect the film division is readily unknown. More than likely it won't change much, and could even keep the film division afloat for decades to come. No Film School reached out to Kodak for comment, but they did not immediately respond to our request. We will update this story when they do.