Paramount quietly ends film distribution

Old motion picture film reel during the Thessaloniki (Greece) International Film Festival on November 5, 2012. © / werve.

Old motion picture film reel during the Thessaloniki (Greece) International Film Festival on November 5, 2012.
© / werve.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Paramount has stopped creating 35mm film versions of its new releases. Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues was the final new film, and Wolf of Wall Street became Paramount’s first movie to be released only digitally.

The Times story said that “no studio wants to be seen as the first to abandon film, which retains a cachet among purists.” Now that one major studio has crossed that line and completely ended film production, the other majors should fall in line pretty quickly.

For drive-in theater operators waiting until the long-delayed switch away from film, now that’s where we are. In a way, it’s good that Paramount’s decision came at this time of year; if the switch had come in June, some theaters might have been stuck with shutting down in mid-season.

We still refer to new releases of music as “albums” even though it’s been a very long time since they came as a series of 78s held in pages like a photo album. Maybe 50 years from now, folks who watch movies will still refer to them as “films” the same way. When that happens, I hope to still be around to tell them stories of metal cans, projection rooms and huge platters of film so they’ll know how theaters once delivered our movie magic.

Retro Christmas present: The Remco Drive-In

Here’s what to get your young, unsophisticated drive-in enthusiast, especially if you have access to a time machine or a ton of cash to throw at some eBay seller. (If you can find the thing at all.)

Check out this commercial of two kids getting way too excited about the Remco “Movieland” drive-in toy. Marvel at the glorious scale-model drive-in set, which we see for only a second or two at the beginning. Get jolted back to reality at the sight of the real toy, which looks much smaller. Watch the young Patty Duke as Betty the Ticket Taker. See Jimmy underemphasize the fact that all they get to watch are just “six exciting still features”. By “still features,” Jimmy means a film strip, projected by a battery-operated light bulb onto a 4×6-inch screen.

The opening set, with the self-moving cars, I’ll bet that imaginary world had real films showing. But this thing? I expect that any real kid who got a Movieland Drive-In for Christmas in 1959 got tired of it in a half hour, don’t you?