Friday, November 25, 2011

The end of film is nigh

If you haven't noticed, theatres have rapidly been converting to digital over the past few years. The recent overdose on 3D has only heightened exhibitors frenzy to go digital and foist the latest bloated blockbuster onto the gullible public for as much as they can fleece some sucker of. If you held out an assemblance of hope that film would somehow prevail in the end--think again, dear reader. As painful as it is for me to admit, it looks like the distribution of film prints in theatres will die sooner than I thought.

I believe movies will still be made using film, so that's not ending anytime soon. Maybe I'm being optimistically naive about this too? Digital just doesn't have the naturalistic warmth of tone that film has. Did you see Michael Mann's 2009 release Public Enemies? That should be the pinnacle of just how awful digital moviemaking looks, as that was truly one of the worst looking movies I've ever sat through. No, after a movie has been shot in film, it will be given washes of digital treatment and then projected digitally into your favorite cinema. There will be no more flickering light from a projector. There will be no more scratchy reel changes. The prints you see in the future will be sterilized of all its quirks and flaws and possibly its life.

To make sure that theatre owners get on board with studios cost-cutting ways [it's cheaper for all involved to not have those bulky film prints to ship out to thousands of theatres], a recent missive was sent out from Twentieth Century Fox with gentle reminders that exhibitors need to convert to digital sooner rather than later. It's a sad day reckoning for those of us who truly love the look of film. My question to Fox and all the movie theatres that will continue to raise prices even after the conversion to digital: Shouldn't prices be lowered since by going all digital you are saving millions of dollars by not transporting film prints to and from studios? I think we all know the answer to that question, don't we? Audiences will keep getting stiffed as the prices will continue to inflate. Read the letter from Fox yourself below.


hidden staircase said...

not sustainable my ass. it's all about profit! so sad sad. years from now...there will be people who don't know what film looks like and how will little places like the grand illusion or the circle stay open? art for art's sake doesn't always work out economically. reminds me of vinyl vs. cd and then mp3. arrrgh!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Will they charge us less to watch the movies after they do away with all of the costs of making, shipping prints? No. They will keep raising the prices. Digital will also mean they can be very lazy about distribution. It's infuriating to people who love film.