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TOPIC: Report: 35mm film will be dead by 2015

Report: 35mm film will be dead by 2015 16 Nov 2011 21:30 #37405

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By Rosa Golijan

Celluloid 35mm film has been a key fixture in movie theater projection rooms for over 120 years, but — according to one report — its reign will soon be over. Long story short? Digital is in, analog is out, and James Cameron's "Avatar" is to blame.

The folks at the IHS Screen Digest Cinema Intelligence Service report that the beginning of 2012 will "mark the crossover point when digital technology overtakes 35mm." And after that there's no good news for the old format based on the company's predictions:

By the end of 2012, the share of 35mm will decline to 37 percent of global cinema screens, with digital accounting for the remaining 63 percent. This represents a dramatic decline for 35mm, which was used in 68 percent of global cinema screens in 2010. In 2015, 35mm will be used in just 17 percent of global movie screens, relegating it to a niche projection format.

And what's to blame for this shift? According to David Hancock, head of film and cinema research at IHS, the rise of 3-D films got the ball rolling — but the big damage occurred in 2009, when a little movie called "Avatar" hit the screens and digital technology's share of the movie market grew drastically.

Hancock explains that before the movie's release "digital represented only a small portion of the market, accounting for 15 percent of global screens in 2009." But after the movie? Digital technology's share was seen "jumping by 17 percentage points in both 2010 and 2011, compared to the single-digit increases during the previous years."

So what does it all mean? Well, distributors, suppliers and the like will have to carefully manage the transition and keep an eye on supply and demand, for one thing. There will also be a need to digitize existing content as the use of 35mm prints is phased out.

But when it comes to the average movie-goer's perspective? There's no need to worry too much.

In the United States, mainstream 35mm usage will likely end sometime around 2013. In Western Europe, the death of the format is predicted by the end of 2014. And then the rest of the world will follow suit and bid 35mm goodbye by the end of 2015.

At that point we can start singing:

Digital killed the 35mm star
Digital killed the 35mm star

Pixels came and broke your heart

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