Date: May 01 2012
The 35-millimetre film, distributed to movie houses in iconic round canisters, was diagnosed with terminal obsolescence last week and given less than two years to live in theatres. It turned 132 this year.
The prognosis, from the National Association of Theatre Owners (NATO), underscored a week-long homage to technology at the CinemaCon gathering of theatre owners, the largest box-office conference in the US.
With digital, 3D and IMAX films dominating the landscape, most studios will be out of the 35-millimetre business by the end of 2013, president of NATO John Fithian, says.
Already, 20th Century Fox has stopped distributing film prints in Hong Kong. Developing and distributing a single print can cost up to $US2500 ($2391), while digital films can be sent on $150 hard drives or over the internet with no image degeneration.
''Last year, I … predicted that domestic distribution of movies in the format of celluloid film could cease by the end of 2013,'' Fithian says. ''That prediction is becoming a reality.'' It could threaten small theatres and chains that use the film format.
Ang Lee, whose 3D Life of Pi hits screens on December 21, says that while it's inevitable, film's death need not be sad.
Since George Eastman began producing photographic paper in 1880, ''we've done things in the same way'', Lee says. ''You still want to tell great stories, but we have a more immersive, emotional way to do it.''
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