While exhibition has almost entirely shifted to digital, reducing release prints to a small legacy business, many filmmakers continue to prefer to shoot on film. Throughout its bankruptcy the company has maintained that professional motion picture film is still a viable business, selling billions of linear feet of film each year.
“Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging represents a stable and profitable division of the company,” said Andrew Evenski, president of Kodak’s Entertainment & Commercial Film division, in a statement following the announcement Kodak was out of bankruptcy. “Moving forward, I am confident in our ongoing ability to provide value to the motion picture and television industries, which has been our honor to serve for so many years. We are grateful to our customers and partners for standing by Kodak throughout this process.”
Kodak still has deals with studios to supply film for capture, distribution and archival. So far, film remains the cheapest and most reliable archival medium for motion picture content. Evenski told Variety there’s still a legacy print film business for emerging markets where the cost of d-cinema is prohibitive, particularly in Latin America and Eastern Europe.
Evenski told Variety Kodak will continue to do research & development on film stocks to keep the costs of film low as volumes decline. “As volumes go down, typically costs go up,” said Evenski, “and we’re trying to manage that cost trade-off either by investigating other alternatives or new formulations.”
Kodak launched two archival film stocks last year, but Evenski said the studios were hesitant to adopt them as long as Kodak was in bankruptcy. “We’re viable again, so I’m hopeful the studios will take another look at film and archiving,” said Evenski. For capture, Evenski said, “the film look is still there, it’s still actively desired, and we’re here to service the market. It’s still a very viable alternative,” but he added there is a “tradeoff” around costs.
The reorganized Kodak will be “a technology company serving imaging for business markets – including packaging, functional printing, graphic communications and professional services,” said Kodak chairman-CEO Antonio Perez. Among the moves Kodak undertook during Chapter 11 was the spinoff of its Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging businesses to the pension plan of the company’s U.K. subsidiary.
Kodak’s “film” business isn’t limited to photographic film stocks; it also includes the use of film technology for “functional printing” such as printing circuit boards.