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Labodigital Targets 35mm as a Growth Biz (EXCLUSIVE)

Latin American lab also targets distribution, exhibition services

LOS CABOS – In a forward looking move, however retro it may seem, Latin America’s Labodigital, one of the region’s most out-of-the-box thinking of film services groups, is targeting 35mm as a growth business.

In early moves, Labodigital, once the digital arm of Labo Films, has integrated Labo Films, a decades-old classic 35m lab label, into its operations, taking over its 35mm print biz.

Labodigital recently made 35mm prints of a Hollywood studios film that were sent to exhibitors with non-digital screens in Greece and Puerto Rico. “In this regard, our goal is to be the last lab standing,” CEO Charles Barthe said at Mexico’s Los Cabos Festival.

Using at times Cinevator, produced by Piql, which allows the creation of positive film prints without the need for negative intermediates, Labodigital will continue 35mm print operations. Labodigital’s core 35mm business, which Barthe hopes to grow, will be film rehabilitation, preservation and restoration, Barthe said.

Creating 35mm prints, Labodigital can use Piql, direct positive prints, traditional inter-negative-inter-positive process or go to color separation. “We really want to cover all 35mm archive options available so that we can meet all budgets,” said Barthe.

In collaboration with the Mexican’s Filmoteca’s Guadalupe Ferrer, Labodigital is completing restoration of 1926’s “El tren fantasma,” directed by Gabriel García Moreno. It is also working on the 2K restoration of 1942’s “The Count of Montecristo,” produced by Gregorio Wallerstein.

Barthe aims to seal a Mexican festival partnership to screen movie restorations, a hugely popular festival lure if Lyon’s Lumiere Festival in France is anything to go by.

“Big Mexican producers and broadcasters have huge libraries,” Barthe said.

Labodigital’s move into movie restoration comes as, with the creation of two new Mexican broadcasters next year, the demand for film classics or reissues is likely to grow. Its start-up restoration plans add to three business lines: Post-production services; distribution services such as DCP duplication; exhibition services, including screen calibration, and image and sound for festivals. Labodigital recently digitized 40 screens in Central America.

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