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Report: Paramount Pictures Cuts Film, Goes All-Digital in U.S.

Illustration for article titled Report: Paramount Pictures Cuts Film, Goes All-Digital in U.S.

The Los Angeles Times reports that Paramount Pictures is the first major Hollywood studio to ditch 35mm film and go all-digital for United States theater releases, with The Wolf of Wall Street being shipped to theaters in digital format only. Sorry film fans, it sounds like that's a wrap.

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The L.A. Times' report credits unnamed inside sources with the scoop, saying that Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the last movie Paramount shipped to theaters in both film and digital formats. So far, the studio has not confirmed the report, which says that traditional film will still be used in export markets like Latin America.

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While 35mm film has been the cinema standard for over a century, industry watchers have known since at least 2011 that the jump to digital was inevitable. The digital format allows high-tech 3D effects (and the boosted ticket prices that go with them), and at under $100 a piece, digital copies are much cheaper to provide to theaters compared to as much as $2,000 per film print. The digital switch is also necessary to enable distributors to beam movies directly to theaters via satellite.

Although film purists prefer 35mm, the move to digital seemed inevitable—today, 92% of U.S. theaters have digital projection equipment. Still, none of the Hollywood studios wanted to be the first to make a shift which could hasten the demise of small theaters and drive-ins that can't afford the $70,000 per projector upgrade.

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Soon, it seems, the cutting room floor will harbor nothing but 1's and 0's. [LA Times via The Verge]

Image: Shutterstock / Fer Gregory

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DISCUSSION

As a theatre manager, I can shed some light on this topic. The features and trailers are transmitted via satellite or hard drive. We receive what's called a KDM or key to unlock the content via email. The key is specific to each auditoriums server serial number, thus "unlocking" the content for playback. It was actually more costly for theatres to receive 35mm prints as hauling charges and film production costs were significantly higher. Digital is significantly cheaper in this regard. $70k per screen to make the switch is not very accurate. It's estimated that $100k-125 is the norm with all companies Barco, Christie, Sony, Dolby.