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The danger of digital film prints

2014 August 21
by Kurt

This month I’m doing projections at Cinema Urbana (Zomer Van Antwerpen). One of the things that strike me the most is that all the bigger Hollywood movies don’t send DCP’s (Digital Cinema Packages, the works), but Blu-Ray Disks (the heavily compressed consumer stuff with much less color depth). Flabbergasted by this, I inquired and learned from the distributor that as a matter of fact, these DCP’s don’t exist anymore because they are erased a couple of months after they leave the multiplexes. They just don’t exist anymore. A huge problem for them.

Now, knowing how Hollywood likes to squeeze every cent out of a movie and tries to recuperate every penny, this makes total sense. But it’s still wrong and dangerous of course. Movies are meant to be shown. They only exist when they are shown.

Martin Scorsese once wrote that it is not upon us to decide which film prints are worth to be saved. We can only see that in the future. Now, with going to digital film prints, it seems the lifespan of film prints has become much shorter, instead of longer. So it’s perhaps even more poignant that precisely a Scorsese film gets sent on Blu Ray.

On the upside. All the indepent films seem to take really good care of their digital film prints.

Two films that blew me away as of writing this: ‘Nebraska’ and ‘Get Low’. Both amazing.

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