As the shift to digital projection has nearly eliminated film prints and Kodak remains the last factory that manufactures film stock, Hollywood directors including Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams and Judd Apatow have urged Hollywood studios to support Kodak to keep film stock in use.
According to The Wall Street Journal, after being lobbied by the A-list directors, a coalition of Hollywood studios are close to sealing a deal with Kodak which will ensure the continued production of film stock. As part of the deal, studios would commit to buying a certain amount of film stock even though they don’t know how much of it they will use on future productions.
Abrams is currently shooting "Star Wars Episode VII" on film.
Sales of movie film stock have dropped by 96% since 2006 as studios such as the Weinstein Co. and Paramount have said they are looking to end film print distribution entirely.
"It’s a financial commitment, no doubt about it," Bob Weinstein, co-chairman of Weinstein Co., told The Wall Street Journal. "But I don’t think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn’t do it."
Nolan has been vocal about his support for film, which earlier this year at the Scientific & Technical Academy Awards he said "still represents the gold standard" for filmmaking technology. Tarantino has also been a critic of digital filmmaking. "As far as I’m concerned, digital projection is the death of cinema," said Tarantino at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. "The fact that most films aren’t presented in 35mm means that the world is lost. Digital projection is just television in cinema."
Apatow told The Wall Street Journal that film and digital are "are valid choices, but it would be a tragedy if suddenly directors didn’t have the opportunity to shoot on film. Apatow is shooting his latest film, "Trainwreck" on film. "There’s a magic to the grain and the color quality that you get with film," he said.
For its part, Kodak said that while film is expected to account for less than 10% of its $2.2 billion revenue this year, closing the company’s movie film plant would still be a huge blow. "The unprecedented decline in the use of film in the entertainment industry created an enormous amount of uncertainty," Jeff Clarke, Kodak’s new chief executive, told The Wall Street Journal. "We had to build a coalition among all the parties in order to reach a solution."