Last Updated on 04/17/2023 by Chris Gampat
Film photographers these days share a passionate love of analog photography, experimentation, the interpersonal nature, and the larger craft service of it all. But they also share a frustration that spreads and causes anguish. Primarily, the causes are the practices of both Kodak and Fujifilm. Now, it, unfortunately, seems like things are getting worse. Apparently, Kodak Alaris, the company that distributes Kodak’s film, is for sale.
Before Sky News broke the news of Kodak Alaris’s sale, a lot was happening. Here’s a timeline of articles that we’ve done
Sky News has learnt that the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has kicked off talks with bankers about an auction of the company behind the ‘Kodak moments’ made famous by its multinational advertising campaigns.
The PPF, which is funded through a levy on companies with defined benefit schemes, has owned Kodak Alaris since 2020, and has had an involvement in payments to its retirees since 2013.Sky News
2/10: Kodak announces that they’re backing out of the camera business.
3/01: Kodak discontinues all their slide film.
7/03: Ektachrome becomes tougher to find in stores.
8/23: The first mumbles of the company selling off its film business hits the web.
9/28: After previously announcing that they would restructure to work in the printing business (and even after going to many trade shows in NYC showing off their printers), Kodak announces that they’re pulling out of the printer business.
11/14: Kodak becomes set to receive $793M from a slew of banks. However there is a stipulation that the company makes at least half a billion on their patent sales, which thus far has not been a successful venture.
11/24: Rumors stir that Lomography may be a potential suitor for Kodak.
12/07: The company’s digital imaging patents are sold for $500+ Million.
12/13: Kodak releases a new Super 8 film in a very weird move.
12/19: Apple, Google, and Microsoft are named among the purchasers of Kodak’s patents.
1/18: Kodak and a company that might as well be branded a startup called JK Imaging announce a new Micro Four Thirds camera. JK Imaging is also announced as a new member of the Micro Four Thirds coalition.
1/23: The approval for the massive loan finally comes through.
4/29: Kodak sells its document imaging business to Brother
6/20: Kodak got loans to pay off debts and put themselves further into debt.
6/7:Kodak Lays Off 61 More Workers at Its Lake Avenue Plant
6/13: Kodak Is Ending the Production of Its Acetate Film Base
8/21: To exit bankruptcy, they told the courts that they wouldn’t sell products to consumers anymore. But obviously, that changed.
After this happened, there wasn’t much Kodak news that we thought was worth reporting on.
5/14: It was reported that Kodak’s motion picture film business was what was selling the most film.
11/12: A significant dip in their revenue.
2/02: Kodak Alaris was reported to be trying to sell its assets.
Since then, we’ve mostly sat back and watched what’s been happening with Kodak Alaris, part of Kodak Moments. The pandemic occurred the next year, and film sales were exploding. Then recently, the prices shot up, primarily for C41 film.
If Kodak Alaris is for sale right now, what could happen to the film? Well, they’ve already tried to sell the assets. We’re not sure of the details of what happened when they tried to sell. However, we know that all the companies making films more or less rely on one another’s factories. It’s the same thing that happens in the camera world. In fact, we’re pretty sure that the new Fujifilm 400 is made by Kodak.
Considering what happened with other companies (Agfa, Ferrenia, etc.), the emulsions may be dead if Kodak disappears. But this would hurt more than just the C41 and black-and-white film world. It would majorly disrupt a sudden change that’s happening.
ECN2 Processing: Movie Film
More and more companies have been working to secure ECN2 film: which is movie film. CineStill buys this film, removes the remjet layer, and sells it to create their beloved emulsions. But other companies like SILBERSALZ and Atlanta Film Co sell the film as is — wrapped up in 35mm film canisters. To that end, they’ve been selling it cheaper than C41 film. The trouble is that only a few labs process ECN2 film, but more were supposed to come online. This would’ve made film a whole lot cheaper for photographers. But if Kodak Alaris and Moments are sold, then this film is in great jeopardy.
Is It Over?
Sometimes I wonder if film is over. Leica, who brought back the M6, told us that it’s a niche for sure. Fujifilm has told us the same thing many times. But film and analog processes are loved by so many photographers and enthusiasts everywhere. However, the unfortunate reality is that lots of folks simply use presets instead.
Though I hate asking the question, I’ve quietly wondered in my head for a while if film is over. And if Kodak falls, a bunch of other companies would ripple under it. Lomography, Cinestill, and others would have to pivot majorly. Lomography has already shown their pivot with the creation of lenses, and making more Instax cameras. Cinestill, however, could be done with until supplies run out.