Paramount Pictures said to eschew 35 mm film for digital format

It is a shift that is expected to happen soon but one that no one really knows when. It seems, however, that Paramount Pictures will be the one to get the ball rolling as sources say the studio will no longer be distributing its major movies on 35 mm film, starting with the Oscar-nominated "The Wolf of Wall Street".

Studios have been looking to switch to digital distribution for quite a long time now, even giving exhibitors and theater owners a heads up as early as 2011, with the likes of Disney and 20th Century Fox also signifying their interest in switching. The reasons for switching to this medium are economic and practical.

Printing on 35 mm film costs around $2,000 while digital copies on disc only less than $100. It also makes it more convenient for studios to distribute the film. Actually, it also makes it easier for them to control almost all aspects of the distribution. There is even a chance in the future for studios to directly beam films to theaters via satellite.

But what may be convenient and cost-efficient for studios may not be so for theater owners, especially small scale ones. While majority of theaters in the US have reportedly updated their equipment, 8 percent are still capable of projecting 35 mm films only. That is not counting other theaters all over the world who have not yet made such a switch. Considering a digital projector costs around $70,000, it is quite understandable that not everyone is keen on this transition.

Because of this, as well as the industry's high regard for the distribution medium, no studio is willing to be the first to openly sound the death knell of 35 mm film. This makes Paramount's move quite intriguing, if the sources are accurate. Neither Paramount nor "The Wolf of Wall Street" director Martin Scorsese, a staunch supporter of film preservation, were available to confirm this rumor.

SOURCE: Los Angeles Times