We knew this day was coming for a long time, and now it’s officially here. Paramount Studios has announced they will no longer be making celluloid film prints of their movies, and theaters better have digital systems to project them, or they’ll get left behind.
We’ve previously reported here on TGD that there would be a cut off date for theaters in the future to convert to digital, and we’ve recently seen the closings of a number of Technicolor labs. It hit home for a lot of filmmakers when we realized that major directors like Martin Scorsese was no longer working with film, and hasn’t been for years. But this is officially the closing of a big door, and for movie lovers like myself, it’s definitely the end of a major era.
As the L.A. Times reports, Paramount is the first studio to stop making film prints, and it’s expected the other major studios will follow suit very quickly. (In fact, as this story was being finalized, The Weinstein Company also confirmed they will no longer be making film prints.) The Wolf of Wall Street is Paramount’s first movie to be exclusively on digital, and the last movie the studio released on celluloid is Anchorman 2.
According to the Times, 8% of theaters in the country have no made the change to digital, yet Paramount is still making prints for Latin America and other places where they are still running celluloid. The big difference, besides moving along with new technology, is price. Making a print can cost $2,000, but showing a movie on digital costs less than $100 to make a disc.
The change to digital is not going to be cheap for theaters. It can cost $70,000 for a digital projector, and a lot of smaller theaters could end up going under because they can’t keep up with the costs. Whether film buffs like it or not, it’s absolutely a major changing of the guard, one of the biggest in the 120 years we’ve had cinema.