×

Lab pact heralds twilight of film

Deluxe, Technicolor agree to combine film services

The death knell for 35mm film production has just gotten a lot louder.

Citing collapsing demand for film prints as theaters shift to digital projectors, lab giants Technicolor and Deluxe have struck subcontracting agreements that edge them toward an end to their century-old competition in 35mm release printing.

Under the agreements, Deluxe will take over 35mm release printing for the major studios in the U.S. and Canada beginning this week. Technicolor will exit the 35mm print business in those territories and Monday shuttered its print plant in Mirabel, Quebec, resulting in the loss of 178 jobs. It will retain its print lab in Montreal for small orders. (The new Technicolor plant in Glendale, Calif., will specialize in 65mm and 70mm prints.)

Deluxe will exit the film print distribution business in the U.S., contracting that work out to Technicolor facilities in Ontario, Canada, and Wilmington, Ohio. As a result, Deluxe will close its print distribution depots in the U.S. in September. Once the deals are in full effect, almost all U.S. film prints will be struck at a Deluxe lab but distributed by Technicolor.

Outside North America, Technicolor’s Thailand plant will take over release printing for Deluxe in the territory, ending Deluxe’s existing relationship with a local affiliate; and within a week Technicolor will take over front-end processing of 35mm and 16mm film negatives for Deluxe in the U.K. That processing will be done out of Technicolor’s Pinewood facility.

Deluxe said in a statement that the move comes “as a result of digital image capture overtaking film capture.”

“There is still a very good business on the release print side in North America,” Cyril Drabinsky, prexy-CEO of Deluxe Entertainment Services Group told Variety, adding, “35mm release printing in Europe is still very, very healthy.”

Drabinsky predicted film printing will continue to decline but that the decline will flatten out over the next five years.

Technicolor, which is governed by French securities laws, is under a quiet period in advance of its July 28 earnings report and could not make its executives available for comment.

However, both companies stress that these are subcontracting agreements, and that they are not forming a new joint venture. In effect, each of the long-standing rivals becomes the other’s client in a narrow part of their business.

And those areas are indeed narrow. Technicolor and Deluxe continue to have rival printing operations, at least for now, in London, Rome and Spain. Deluxe has a print plant in Australia serving the Asia-Pacific region; Technicolor serves that region from its Thai facility. Companies will also continue to offer competing front-end services such as color grading and mastering.

The companies cited the rapidly diminishing demand for film prints as the driver behind the deals. They expect more than half the screens in North America to be digital by the end of 2011.

Both companies have been shifting their business away from photochemical processing and printing and diversifying into post-production and digital services. The deals do not affect production or distribution of digital cinema packages.

Both companies’ plants will continue to use both Kodak and Fuji print stock and the companies say they are committed to maintaining the same quality their clients are used to. Deluxe and Technicolor expect their existing studio deals to continue unaffected by these subcontracting arrangements.

The studios were not apprised of the deals in advance, nor were Technicolor’s employees at Mirabel, who got pinkslips Monday.

More Film

  • Abominable Animated Movie

    Vietnam Pulls DreamWorks’ 'Abominable' Over Contested Territorial Claims

    Vietnam has banned DreamWorks Animation’s new co-produced feature “Abominable” from its cinemas due to a scene involving a map that depicts China’s contested territorial claims in the South China Sea. The move comes as U.S. entertainment firms like the NBA, Disney and gaming firm Activision Blizzard are under intense fire from US fans, activists and [...]

  • The Captain

    China Box Office: 'The Captain' Flies to $340 Million After Two Weeks on Release

    Patriotic thriller “The Captain” held on to the top spot at the Chinese box office for the second weekend, again leading from propaganda omnibus “My People, My Country.” “The Captain,” also known as “The Chinese Pilot” earned $34.9 million according to consultancy Artisan Gateway, for a two-week cumulative of $343 million. The cumulative for “People,” [...]

  • CGV movie theatre Seoul South KoreaCGV

    Korean Law To Limit Film Releasing Monopolies

    The Korean government is to make it illegal to show a single film on more than 50% of screens nationwide. The move is intended to prevent “screen monopolies by blockbuster films” and to “address unfair competition practices in the film industry.” The Ministry of Culture announced on Monday that it will revise the existing Promotion [...]

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

  • The-Ancient-Law

    Lumière Festival’s MIFC Broadens International Spotlight with Focus on Germany

    The 7th Lumière Film Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) is expanding its international scope this year with more foreign companies than ever before taking part in the event, high-profile guests and an examination of Germany’s heritage cinema sector. With 17 international firms from 25 countries at the event, the MIFC has reported a 20% [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content