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Kodak makes a deal with Hollywood studios to keep making motion-picture film

Motion-picture film.
Motion-picture film.
Stephen Kelly/Kodak

A deal has been reached to keep the Kodak film company in business through the downturn in the use of film in favor of digital photography, and it's being financed by major Hollywood studios, according to media reports.

"It's a financial commitment, no doubt about it," Weinstein Company co-chairman Bob Weinstein said, according to the Wall Street Journal. "But I don't think we could look some of our filmmakers in the eyes if we didn't do it."

The Hollywood notables who helped push for the continued manufacturing of traditional film include J.J. Abrams, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino and Judd Apatow, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Abrams is using traditional film to shoot the new Star Wars film, while Nolan just used it on the forthcoming sci-fi film "Interstellar."

"After extensive discussions with filmmakers, leading studios and others who recognize the unique artistic and archival qualities of film, we intend to continue production," company CEO Jeff Clarke said in a statement on Wednesday, according to multiple reports.

The deal includes the studios agreeing in advance to purchase a certain amount of film from Kodak over the next several years, according to the Wall Street Journal, helping to keep the Rochester, New York plant that produces the film open. The only other major company that still produced motion-picture film, Fujifilm, had previously stopped production.

The studios involved include Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and the Weinstein Company, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Kodak's film sales have fallen by 96 percent in the last decade, from 12.4 billion linear feet to approximately 449 million, with film's woes added to by the transition of movie theaters from film to digital. Film use peaked in 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The deal is also helping make sure that the other supplies involved in making film, including the last remaining film lab in Hollywood, Burbank's Fotokem, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Kodak and FotoKem representatives weren't immediately available for comment Wednesday.