|The End of Film Is Near|
More and more, I'm asked by exhibitors "How long will I be able to get 35mm film prints?" I don't know the precise answer but I do know that the end of film is going to be sooner rather than later.
Looking at the numbers can provide some insight into how long film will still be used for movie exhibition at cinemas. According to IHS Screen Digest - Cinema Intelligence Service (which tracks such things), of the approximately 130,000 cinema screens in the world, as of the end of 2012, over 104,000 had converted to digital. Leaving only 25,000+ to be converted. Several studios have indicated that by the end of 2013 film distribution in the U.S. will be very scanty, if at all, and they appear to be indicating that the rest of the world will be off film by the end of 2014.
The industry is already grappling with digital issues, such as high-frame rates, 4k image capture, digital archiving, etc. which the industry and cinema owners will need to respond to in the near future. So, we can be reasonably sure that the issue of film's future has already been decided - it will not be! When was the last time you purchased a roll of film? There, you answered the question on film.
As more and more cinemas convert to digital projection there will be less and less film prints produced and distributed - until the point (which is coming soon) when there will be no prints available.
The good about film's demise is that digital projection provides cinemas the tool need to compete with a higher standard then is available (currently) with home movie viewing. It also allows for the presentation of a wide variety of non-movie content which can be tailored to the local cinema's demographics. How about Cinema On-Demand. Using social networking technology cinemas should began to take the first steps as part of offering motivated movie patrons the opportunity to influence directly the cinema's programing. Cinemas should start to experiment with this concept.