It’s the end of an era: Deluxe Entertainment Services Group and Technicolor, two iconic names in the movie industry for almost a century, have signed subcontracting deals that, more than likely, herald the end of actual film being used for motion pictures.
The two companies have signed three-year contracts that will see Technicolor hand its 35mm bulk release printing business to Deluxe, while Deluxe hands its 35mm print distribution and 35mm/16mm color negative processing to Technicolor in exchange.
For those doubting that this means the beginning of the end, Deluxe CEO and President Cyril Drabinsky told the Hollywood Reporter that the agreements are “the result of significant changes in our industry enabled by new digital technologies causing the rapid transition from film to digital,” and “will help maintain a high consistency of service for our customers through the remaining life of film.”
When pressed, Drabinsky said that he believed film had “at least another five years” left in the U.S., and longer in Europe. If he’s correct, then that will at least allow both Technicolor and Deluxe to reach their 100-year anniversaries of film processing; Technicolor started in 1914, with Deluxe following a year later in 1915.
For that reason alone, I hope that digital doesn’t speed up its spread too much in the near future. What can I say? I’m a traditionalist.
Graeme McMillan is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @Graemem or on Facebook at Facebook/Graeme.McMillan. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.