[78-L] O/T Films

Elizabeth McLeod lizmcl at midcoast.com.invalid
Sun Aug 3 17:21:26 PDT 2014

A single 35mm print of the average feature film consists of six 2000 foot
reels, and weighs over fifty pounds. Not too many of them walk off, but
sometimes the studios forget to send someone around to pick them up,
especially if you're at the end of the distribution chain.

When TV stations showed actual films they usually used 16mm prints, which
are much easier to handle. Some of these films were leased to stations on a
"life of print" arrangement, which basically let the stations keep them
until the print physically wore out. When TV switched over to videotape
program sourcing, these prints were generally discarded or "walked off."

It was often customary, when a TV station disposed of a print, to saw each
reel thru the middle on a bandsaw before throwing it in the trash, ensuring
no garbage-picker could come along and help themselves to it.

(who manages a theatre for a living)

On 8/3/14 2:01 PM, "Julian Vein" <julianvein at blueyonder.co.uk.invalid>

> On 03/08/14 14:08, Don Cox wrote:
>> On 03/08/2014, Julian Vein wrote:
>>> What happens to films after they've been shown in the cinema and on
>>> TV? I'm not referring to digital forms of the genre.
>> The release prints are sent around to smaller cinemas until they wear out.
>> Release prints are supposed to be returned to the distributors, who will
>> send superfluous copies for recycling of the plastic film base.
>> But sometimes for various reasons a print may be kept at the theatre and
>> not returned. Some may then survive for decades in storage. This is why
>> "lost" films
>> are regularly found.
>> Regards
> =========================
> I suppose that is the official explanation, but I wonder what happens in
> reality? Have these "lost" films deteriorated during their years of
> storage, because when they get released on DVD they usually aren't very
> good quality. Some are obviously copied off the air, but others are
> copied from the original elements. But, that raises the question: what
> did the TV companies do with their copies? If they aren't returned to
> the distributor, who is the legal owner, and who has the right to
> show/copy/sell them?
> I suspect that when cinemas close down and are converted to bingo halls,
> any contents are are trashed and sent for landfill. I would think that
> the reels, unlike 16" radio transcriptions, would be too large and
> numerous to have "walked" out of the buildings.
>        Julian Vein
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