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Paramount goes 'all-digital' for US film releases

Paramount becomes the first studio to entirely drop 35mm film for distribution around the US, opting instead for digital-only.

For over 120 years, film stock, particularly 35mm, has been the default format for distributing movies to cinemas around the world.

(Credit: Paramount)

Now, Paramount will become the first studio to move fully away from film, instead choosing to distribute all major releases in US cinemas exclusively in digital format.

The LA Times is reporting that The Wolf of Wall Street will be the first widely released film to be distributed only in digital format, according to "industry executives briefed on the plans who were not authorized to speak publicly".

The article notes that this film is an odd choice given director Martin Scorsese's vocal love of film and the fact The Wolf of Wall Street was partially shot on film.

This also means that Anchorman 2 has the dubious honour of being the last Paramount movie to be printed on film.

The main drive to digital is due to distribution costs. A film print can cost up to US$2000 whereas a digital format on disc could be as low as US$100. It also lays ground work for distribution via satellite or over IP.

In the US, 92 per cent of cinemas are set up with expensive digital projectors. It's mainly the smaller independent cinemas that have relied on film and been unable to afford the conversion to digital.

In Australia, 72 per cent of all cinemas were digital-ready by the end of 2012. The Independent Cinema Association of Australia has been working with the Cinedigm Digital Cinema company to create a program to help prepare indie cinemas for digital distribution.

Arguably, the change in distribution will also help home entertainment releases to continue to move away from physical discs and into an online streaming or download delivery, especially as demand for HD and even Ultra HD formats increases in the home.