Kodak Bankruptcy: Key Hearing Approaches; Company Restates Commitment to Film

“Filmmakers do not have to shy away from using film because of uncertainties around the availability of laboratory services,” asserts a company exec.
Andrew Evenski

The future of Eastman Kodak since it filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early 2012 has been a closely watched subject from production through exhibition and archiving. Numerous execs predict that the end of delivering film prints in North America is rapidly approaching, though many also are hoping that film will continue to co-exist with digital.

Last month, Kodak filed its chapter 11 plan of reorganization, and a key next step to watch for is a scheduled June 13 hearing. That is when the Bankruptcy Court will be tasked with confirming the Kodak plan as having sufficient information for creditors to vote upon. Kodak’s aim is to emerge from chapter 11 as early as July and no later than the end of September.

The reorganization plan includes a settlement reached with Kodak’s largest creditor, the U.K. Kodak Pension Plan, which includes the spin-off of Kodak’s Personalized Imaging and Document Imaging and settles $2.8 billion in claims. The close of that transaction is subject to court approval.

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Per the reorganization plan, two business units will remain with Kodak: Digital Printing & Enterprise; and Graphics, Entertainment & Commercial Films. The Entertainment Imaging division resides in the later, and per the plan would remain intact with its film products.

Related, Kodak announced on Tuesday that it expanded the role of Christian Richter to include the newly created role of film lab and studio relationship manager, responsible for developing and managing workflow between studios, filmmakers, labs and postproduction facilities.

Richter joined Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging division in 1997, and serves as business manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, a title he’ll additionally maintain.

He will report to Andrew Evenski, Kodak’s president and general manager of Entertainment Imaging, who said in a released statement: “There is a growing concern that the changes occurring in the industry will be detrimental to the motion picture film infrastructure, and we want to alleviate that concern.”

In a release statement, Richter added: “Filmmakers do not have to shy away from using film because of uncertainties around the availability of laboratory services. That infrastructure is in place.”

The world’s largest lab businesses—owned by Deluxe and Technicolor—have steadily reduced their global footprint to keep in line with the decreased demand for film services.