My latest piece for The Atlantic, “With 35mm Film Dead, Will Classic Movies Ever Look the Same Again?”, describes the problems repertory theaters are facing in trying to schedule film prints—not digital versions—of classic movies.
I’ve been reporting on the transition from film to digital for over a year now. The pros and cons of the formats have become moot as film slides faster and faster into a niche category. But as someone who has worked in and around movies for thirty years, I am astonished at how quickly the movie industry has shifted.
Last December I talked to director Alexander Payne about competing formats in “Thinking About the End of Film.” “Flicker is better than glow,” was his conclusion, even as he was fighting studio executives for the right to shoot his next project on film.
In “Film vs. Digital: The IMAX Edition,” esteemed large-format director Greg MacGillivray spoke about the shortcomings to digital formats. A companion piece, “Film vs. Digital: Archivists Speak Out,” addressed concerns about the costs and durability of digital preservation.
No one in the movie industry knows how the digital transition will ultimately shake out. But in the coming weeks and months I’ll try to keep tabs on all the setbacks, advances, and other milestones in the effort to save our film heritage.