Paramount: First Studio to Go Digital-Only with Movie Releases

In a move toward all-digital formats, Paramount Pictures announced it will stop distributing major motion pictures in the U.S. using 35mm film. The Adam McKay-helmed “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” was the studio’s last film to be distributed in 35mm, while Martin Scorsese’s “The Wolf of Wall Street” became Paramount’s first wide release to be made available theatrically only in digital format. This year could mark a complete phase-out of film by major Hollywood studios.

“For more than a century, Hollywood has relied on 35-millimeter film to capture its fleeting images and deliver them to the silver screen,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “Now, in a historic move, Paramount Pictures has become the first big studio to stop releasing its major movies on film in the United States.”

Paramount is still expected to ship film prints to foreign markets such as Latin America where the majority of screens remain limited to film exhibition. Only 8 percent of screens in the U.S. have yet to go digital.

Hollywood began helping exhibitors finance the replacement of film projectors with digital systems nearly a decade ago. According to the National Association of Theatre Owners, 92 percent of the more than 40,000 U.S. screens have been converted.

“It’s likely that the rest of the studios will follow Paramount’s lead during 2014 or in 2015,” notes Digital Trends. “Both Disney and 20th Century Fox have previously warned theater operators that the shift to digital-only releases would arrive within the coming years. Theaters that moved to digital projection in the past few years had a bit of financial incentive, namely the ability to sell higher priced tickets for films in 3D. During 2014, at least 25 films will be released in 3D format and include titles such as ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier,’ ‘Godzilla,’ ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,’ ‘The Amazing Spider-Man 2’ and ‘300: Rise of an Empire.'”