Kodak Is Betting On Film As The Future Of Movie Storage

While 35mm might be all but dying out, Kodak realizes film is the only way to truly archive movies.

You have 100 gigs of movies? Good for you. Let's talk again in ten years, when the drive fails or the format in which you've stored the films is obsolete or any of a thousand other things wipes those movies out. Digital storage of movies is not a great option for true archival purposes. Yet as film disappears everybody thinks that movies will just happily sit on some hard drive somewhere, as opposed to being lost forever and ever.

Kodak knows better. While they're getting out of the camera game, the company is getting back into 35mm in a big way - as an archival commodity. They've announced "Color Asset Protection Film," which is intended to last in storage for more than 100 years. What's more, the film is "human readable," which means that even after our modern computers and smart phones are totally bricked and surpassed by something we can't even imagine, you'll still be able to hold the film up to the light and see the images. 

That's a big deal. It's unclear whether the studios will pay much attention - Kodak says that the recent Digital Dilemma study published by AMPAS spurred them on, so you have to hope so. If the studios do pay attention we'll be in a better place when it comes to our cinematic heritage. Read this to see why our heritage is in such danger

Of course this isn't a cure-all. Kodak will be releasing black and white archival stock later this year, but even with the options available (at what Kodak claims is an affordable price) it seems likely that the vast majority of movies ever made will not be archived. To understand just how easy it is for movies to disappear consider this: last night I saw Basket Case projected in 35mm at Los Angeles' Cinefamily. You would assume this movie, which is a horror classic and is on DVD and streaming sites, would be readily available on 35mm. But the reality is that the print we watched last night was the first discovered in decades; before that all 35 prints of the movie were considered lost. And this is a fairly well-known title - imagine what happens when you get to the more obscure stuff.