Kodak deal

In a primarily digital era, it seems like even household name directors like Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino have to battle for the right to shoot their movies on film. Those two directors were part of a group which led the charge back in 2015 to convince the studios to sign a deal with Kodak, which resulted in that company staying in business and producing a certain amount of film stock every year. That deal has since expired, but at last night’s Kodak Film Awards, word came out that Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Sony, and Warner Bros. have all renewed their contracts with Kodak once again. So film isn’t dead yet – and it sounds like it might have a bit of a longer lease on life this time.

The Hollywood Reporter says that the industry’s five major studios have struck a new deal with Kodak, which has committed to buying “undisclosed amounts of motion picture celluloid and thus guaranteeing its continued use for the foreseeable future.”

In 2015, directors like Tarantino, Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and Judd Apatow essentially lobbied the major studios to keep film alive, and Kodak was close to shutting down one of its major remaining production facilities. The company, which had sold 12.4 billion feet of film in 2006, had emerged from bankruptcy and suffered huge losses during the rise of digital filmmaking technology, dropping to only about 450 million sold in 2014 as of that July. The filmmakers’ gambit worked, and deals were signed which meant that the company could continue to manufacturer things like camera negative, intermediate stock for postproduction, and archival and print film.

THR says that 2015 deal was “believed to have covered two years,” while the new deal signed this week is “believed to span a longer period” – though exactly how long it will last has not yet been made public.

Last year, directors like Abrams, Tarantino, Greta Gerwig, and Noah Baumbach shot movies on film, but it’s not just A-list properties: Detective Pikachu, Luce, The Lighthouse, Uncut Gems, Seberg, Birds of Passage, Queen & Slim, and more were also shot on that format. Thankfully, the renewal of this deal means that celluloid should be accessible for a wider range of filmmakers in the coming years, not just those who already have the clout to jostle for it.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, be sure to check out this 28-minute long featurette about the making of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood to get some insights from cinematographer Robert Richardson about shooting that 1969-set ode to Tinseltown on celluloid.

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