Each year at the Oscars ceremony, Hollywood says goodbye to stars and filmmakers who’ve passed away and this year, the award show will bid adieu to the Kodak Theatre.
Just a decade ago, the glamorous 3,300-seat venue was touted as the Oscars’ first permanent home, but the 131-year-old company has forfeited its sponsorship of the venue as it struggles with bankruptcy.
The move symbolises Kodak’s fading star power in Hollywood.
Although seven of the nine “Best Picture” nominees were shot on Kodak film, the industry’s increasing use of digital editing and projection has ravaged the company’s printing business.
About half of the world’s commercial screens now show movies from digital projectors, and by some estimates, film reels will soon be a thing of the past.
“35-millimetre is coming to the end of its life,” said David Hancock, head of film and cinema for research firm IHS Screen Digest.
“In four years’ time there will be no film printing business.”
Kodak film has long been a favourite of cinematographers. But more and more movies are shot using digital cameras, and the notion of a “cutting-room floor” littered with celluloid scraps has given way to studios with computerised tools such as Avid Technology Inc’s Avid DS and Apple Inc’s Final Cut Pro.
At their peak, motion pictures accounted for more than 12 billion feet of film processing each year, enough to reach the moon and back five times, according to IHS.
This year, IHS predicts film processing will shrink to about 1.2 billion meters as an increasing number of theatres receive their “films” by satellite or via hard drives delivered by courier.
“We no longer ship (film) to most theatres,” Philippe Dauman, chief executive of Paramount Pictures owner Viacom Inc, told a conference last month.
“We have helped them implement digital distribution so we don’t have to make so many prints.”
The billions of dollars that major studios save on film and its costly ingredient, silver has resulted in revenue declines for the Eastman Kodak Co division that once accounted for the vast majority of the company’s overall revenue.
In the first half of 2011, revenue from the division that makes motion picture stock film was USD 763 million, about half the USD 1.57 billion it posted in the same period in 2008.
Film printing volume was crucial to Kodak. Although it takes about 0.3 million meters to shoot a feature film, studios need about 30 million meters to print enough copies for the widest of North American releases.