According to a report in the Los Angeles Times published over the weekend, Paramount Pictures has announced that it has ceased to distribute films in analogue format in the US. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was its final 35mm format release and The Wolf of Wall Street has been a solely digital release. This transition to digital-only distribution is hardly unexpected. Both Disney and 20th Century Fox have communicated the expectation of digital-only content within the next few years to cinemas. Now that Paramount has set the ball rolling, it could happen sooner rather than later.
What of the impact on cinemas? First of all, this distribution decision applies only to US cinemas. In regions where analogue projection is still the norm, 35mm imprints will still be sent. Second, about 92% of cinemas in the US are capable of projecting digitally distributed content. For the remaining 8%, the cost of replacing their analogue projectors with digital projectors will be in the region of $70,000 per unit. For some smaller community-led cinemas, this could sound their death-knell.
At roughly $2,000 to produce a 35mm print and $100 for a digital print, studios' preference for digital format is obvious. Even if it does leave those who favour analogue prints reeling.
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