Big Name Filmmakers Come to Kodak’s Rescue, Push Deal to Save Motion Picture Film

Quentin Tarantino has been a long-time supporter of motion-picture film, and public critic of digital filmmaking.

One of the last vestiges of the Kodak of old, the one part of its film division not sold off in 2012, is the company’s motion picture film business. But even that is in trouble, and might be taking its dying breaths right now if it wasn’t for some of Hollywood’s biggest filmmakers coming to the rescue.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow and J.J. Abrams are throwing their filmmaking weight around to ensure the success of an agreement between Hollywood and Kodak that would guarantee the survival of Kodak’s Rochester motion picture film plant.

Basically, under the terms of the agreement, studios would commit to purchasing “a certain amount” of motion picture film from Kodak over the next several years without any guarantee that that film would even be used. Warner Brothers, Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Weinstein are all said to be in on the deal.


The sad truth is that this is a stopgap, a temporary solution brought to the table when a proposal that studios actually invest in the business fell flat. Kodak’s film sales have dropped a staggering 96% since 2006, and digital is, for better or worse, more convenient.

But as co-chairman of Weinstein Co., Bob Weinstein, put it when he spoke to the WSJ, “I don’t think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn’t do it.”

And as far as we’re concerned, any attempt to save the film industry — and in particular those attempts that get a lot of press — are worth praising.

Image credits: Photograph by Georges Biard and used in accordance with Creative Commons license

  • OtterMatt

    As much as we like film around here, this is a bailout. At least it’s done privately instead of via the government this time. Adapt or die, and Kodak is dying.

  • derekdj

    It’s the very least the multi-billion dollar industry can do to ensure the raw material used in creating those profits continue to be made and processed. When you think about the back end multi-million dollar points top tier actors get on films, you could imagine a similar arrangement for film, throw them a fraction of a point on every production shot on film. Chris Nolan’s films alone earned over $6 billion in revenue, a few fractions of point could easily ensure a break-even model to ensure film production and development continues.

    The motion picture industry already invests millions a year in other companies they depend on, they spend millions a year on MPAA lobbyists and lawyers, why not invest back into film production and development.

  • Alan Klughammer

    There is a reason digital has all but eliminated film. And Kodak is the poster child for screwing up a company. I would rather the money be spent in R&D for affordable digital sensors…

  • Bill Binns

    I wonder how many labs are left that can process this stuff? I love film. I still shoot some film but this really looks more like a last gasp more than anything. There really is no good technical or artistic reason for shooting features on film anymore other than nostalgia.

  • OtterMatt

    Which of Nolan’s movies were actually shot on film? I don’t know, so I’m legitimately asking, but is he really the poster child for a film-based director?

    And somewhere, James Cameron is smirking and drinking approximately one-thousand-year-old brandy through rolled dollar bills.

  • OtterMatt

    The only thing I can think of that digital sensors really can’t honestly reproduce is true film grain. Granted, in a feature film, that would be more distracting than anything, but it’s a reason to keep film around for stills shooters anyway.

  • David Liang

    All of the Batmans and Inception. That last batman he even used the really rare 65mm film for the action scenes to capture as much detail as possible.

  • OtterMatt

    Huh. The More You Know.

  • David Liang

    There’s really no debate as to the dominance and workflow advantages of digital. But I do hope that there’s a consistent amount of film movies produced yearly. There is an aesthetic to film that is different from digital, and I think they work really well with period piece films. Shooting a WWII movie? Try film. Shooting a 20s gangster flick? Try film.

    It’s clear film has lost the war and it’s advantages but it’d be great to have it around as another creative option.

  • David Liang

    So was the emmy nominated series True Detective, shot entirely on film. If you haven’t seen the show watch it just for it’s aesthetics…breathtaking.

  • Tobias W.

    Digital is convenient but can be a dead end. Consider all those productions which were made in HD and Full HD and cannot be brought up to 4K resolution. Productions shot on film have been remastered to digital HD and Full HD and now to 4K. HD and Full HD have been dead ends for the movie industry. 4K may also just be a transition to something better. With film, producers and creatives retain their options. There’s a reason the new Star Wars movies are shot on film.

    Apart from that, creatives should have a choice which artistic look they want to achieve. I absolutely despised the ultra-realistic, über-sharp look of the new Hobbit movies (apart from the fact that the movies sucked). If Tarantino chooses film over digital, I think that’s as valid a reason as any to keep film alive.

  • Future is Now

    “Denial” is not a river in Egypt.

  • John Q

    Just delaying the inevitable.

  • Edgar Allan Bro

    This is important, because without Vision3, we don’t get portra.

    And without Portra, we might as well just kill ourselves.

    Now, everyone start blabbering about how teh digital is bestest and something something d800.

  • Mr Hogwallop

    “Hollywood” should just buy Kodak.

  • Douglas Clarke

    It is a bail out and as long as the tax payers aren’t paying for it so be it. I seriously doubt that the average viewer couuld care less what a production is made on, film or digital. They are there to see a visual story told and have little interest in the technical aspects of how it is told. I hate to see film go only because I wonder if 30 years from now digital won’t end up like 8 track music. It’s in there but with nothing to play it with.

  • derekdj

    There’s actually another factor that few in the “digital” industry talk about publicly, the problem of the archival nature of digital. Contrary to popular belief bits and bytes are only as good as how they’re stored, and they’re prone to corruption as many filmmakers and production houses can attest to. Right now there are dozens of companies and industry initiatives trying to come up with schemes to archive and ensure future playability of digital works (it’s not as trivial as buying a bunch of hard drives and ensuring that codecs are still around). We already see evidence of that with video formats that were used in the 90’s on platforms that are no longer around [ever try reverse decoding a video or image file that was wrapped in a dead or proprietary container? Not pretty]. But with film, you can recover and restore works that date back to the days of Edison; they’ve uncovered film canisters that were sunk on WWII battleships and were able to be viewed.

  • Aezreth

    The new Portra is incredible, people don’t know what they’re missing.

  • cook

    +1. Id take Portra in my 35SP over anything digital. That stock is pure bliss.

  • Juhász Peti

    all his films were shot on film. interstellar too.