By Will Ashton
In the ongoing debate film vs. digital filmmaking and projection, film has taken the majority of the beatings. Most filmmakers and studios transferred over to digital throughout the past decade, and have been enforcing digital’s reign more diligently within the past couple years. But it appears that film has one long-time lover that may just save it for as long as it can be saved: writer/director Quentin Tarantino.
First, he joined forces with fellow filmmakers/film enthusiasts Christopher Nolan, Judd Apatow and J.J. Abrams to have Kodak continue manufacturing 35 mm film stock through a deal with movie studios agreeing to allow select filmmakers to continue making their films on film stock, instead of forcing them to convert to digital. Projects included in this transaction include Nolan’s upcoming Interstellar and Tarantino’s soon-to-be-made The Hateful Eight, which he plans to shoot in 70 mm.
Now, he’s taking his film passions even further, by taking over programing duties for the prestigious New Beverly Cinema—a theater Tarantino bought in 2007, paying $5,000 out of his own pocket to keep the theater he loves alive—and delegating that any movie shown in his theater must be presented on film. No digital projections will be shown in the Los Angeles theater. A eyebrow-raising proposition, especially considering how many cinemas are being forced to shove digital projectors in their theaters, including the Athena Cinema, a local movie theater in Ohio.
“The big thing about what’s going to change now that I’m taking the theater over is, from here on in the New Beverly is only showing film,” was Tarantino’s exact quote to Deadline. “That’s it. No digital. If something’s playing at the New Beverly, if we’re showing it, it’s on film.”
Tarantino has never been particular supportive of either digital filmmaking or digital projections, but the Pulp Fiction filmmaker took it one step further during this year’s Cannes film festival when he called digital projections “the death of cinema” and “just television in cinema” to IndieWire. He is hoping that, by restricting programming solely to film prints, that he is encouraging studios and filmmakers to make at least one film print of their films, so that they can be shown in his theater.
In addition to this, Tarantino’s theater is also receiving additional renovations, including adding six-track stereo sound and 16mm projector to the 228-seating single screen theater. All in service when the Beverly reopens in October, according to NME.
Of course, having film remain dominant in a digital world is something of a losing battle. But to give credit to where it is due, Tarantino is sticking to his guns, and making sure that film is around for as long as it can stay prevalent. In fact, his Hateful Eight release will serve as the widest 70 mm release in over 20 years when it comes out next fall.
Of course, considering how expensive it is to not only reserve only film prints but to keep film projectors in preserve at all, especially as a movie’s theaters only means of showcasing movies, is a lucrative risk. As such, the New Beverly Cinema’s model will likely not serve as a new chain of events, but rather an exception to the rule. But for those who love film projection, this is certainly a win in their corner.