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The New Era of Film is Here

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012 by

In the business of independent film distribution the driving force in how the industry navigates is sales: the money coming in from the films coming out.  Theaters, much like the now trending and conquering online streaming platforms, must adjust their cost and technology to a plethora of factors including but not limited to the demand of their customers as well as the demand of the industry

A recent report from IHS Screen Digest, a company that analyzes trends in digital media, says that movie studios will cease producing 35mm film prints for major markets by the end of 2013 (the US, France, the UK, Japan, and Australia are considered ”major markets”). IHS predicts studios will stop producing film for the rest of the world by 2015.

What does this mean, then, for movie theaters that thrive on the 35mm as a source for avoiding the hefty cost of coming into the new digital age?  A death sentence, for some anyway. 

For years the movie theater enjoyed a steady flow of film release and ticket revenue, ignoring startups like Netflix who were grasping at an idea that had not yet found solid ground.  But no more: the digital age is here and, for every theater that thought the fad would pass, the rude awakening is upon them.

News of the decline of the 35mm comes at a time when filmmakers are finding the ease of working with digital filming equipment over expensive reel: less wasted resources and more clips to work with in the making of their perfect vision.  This is no coincidence: just like any other industry, the independent and mainstream film industry functions as an extension of every market that makes it whole. 

The fear, after running the numbers, is the price tag that even small theaters will be expected to accept in order to stay in business: for some, this could be the end.  It would be enough, for some, to say that digital media has drawn a line in the sand and encroached upon the old norms day by day until this point but, again unfortunately for the small theater and the originalist filmmaker, at the end of the day everyone must play the market or be expunged from it.

Nevertheless, another fad could take the place of the current digital craze – though it’s hard to imagine.  This may just be the beginning of a new era, filled to the brim with pocket-sized reels and films completely tailored to the technology/interweb enthusiasts.

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