35mm was considered the standard gauge for exhibition in the motion picture film industry for over one hundred years up until the mid-2000s.
Until late 70s, 150-300 35mm prints were created per title. They would screen downtown in large cities, moved to neighborhood theaters, then small towns. Most prints prints were struck from the original camera negative.
The late 70s introduced xenon lamps, platter projection, and multiplexes. Films begin to open “wide” on 1000-3000 screens at a time. Most prints were made from internegatives, with high speed printing.
From 2007-2010, film was at its greatest point of saturation, with more prints of more films on more screens than ever before.
By 2012, digital projection had replaced film on the majority of US screens, and by 2014, only a handful of titles are released on film, usually with under 15 prints made.
A small amount of theaters continue to screen film, mostly for repertory screenings, special events, and the occasional first-run film that gets a small film release in addition to a larger digital one. These venues tend to advertise if and when they are screening film as it is often considered to be an audience draw.
Cost and Workflow
A 35mm Print of a Feature Film can cost anywhere from $2000-20,000, the workflow to create restored internegatives can cost many times that.
CAMERA ORIGINAL>>>ANSWER PRINT & SUBSEQUENT RELEASE PRINTS
CAMERA ORIGINAL>>>INTERPOSITIVE>>>INTERNEGATIVE>>>RELEASE PRINT
CAMERA ORIGINAL>>>DIGITAL INTERMEDIATE>>>INTERNEGATIVE>>>RELEASE PRINT
DIGITAL MASTER>>>INTERNEGATIVE>>>RELEASE PRINT
DIGITAL MASTER or DIGITAL INTERNEGATIVE >>>“DIRECT PRINT”
- IB Technicolor
- Timed answer prints from the original camera negative
- Reversal prints (stock no longer manufactured, 16mm only)
- Prints with magnetic soundtracks
- Discontinued stocks such as Kodak 2393, Fuji, Orwocolor
- Prints with no protection elements. There may not be a financial incentive for a studio to strike a new print if one is damaged or destroyed.
Only a handful of labs left in the world printing and processing motion picture film. Only one lab in the US doing laser subtitles