NBCUniversal Gives 600-Plus Film Prints to Toronto Fest to Preserve

'Rear Window' (1954) is among the titles to be preserved by the Toronto International Film Festival.

TIFF is saving endangered 'Rear Window' and 'The Big Lebowski' 35mm prints from destruction as Hollywood continues the switch to digital.

The major studios have long made movies in Canada. Now they're preserving them here.

The Toronto International Film Festival has received 606 film collection prints from NBCUniversal to save from neglect or destruction as the major studios embrace digital projection. That includes 35mm prints of 11 Alfred Hitchcock titles, including Rear Window and Rope; Tod Browning's 1931 classic Dracula; Terry Gilliam's Brazil; and Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich.

Jason Fulsom, senior vp and GM of Universal Films Canada, said the studio will not let film prints of Oliver Stone's Born on the Fourth of July, Martin Scorsese's Casino and Richard Linklater's Dazed and Confused fade away amid digital technologies.

"With the shift of contemporary filmmaking to the digital format, finding a way to preserve movies filmed in 35mm has become a significant challenge. So many have been damaged from the environment, color fade, such that they can no longer be screened and therefore must be destroyed," Fulsom in a statement said of the studio donation over two years in the making.

Other classic Universal releases among the collection titles headed to Toronto include the Coen brothers' The Big Lebowski, John Hughes' The Breakfast Club and Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing. Some, like Norman Jewison's The Hurricane, were shot partly in Toronto before being added to the festival's print collection.

TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling told The Hollywood Reporter that the festival's film preservation team is reviewing and revising each film print frame-by-frame to determine its condition. "After this process, we'll be able to determine which prints are in screening condition so we can show them in our cinemas at TIFF Bell Lightbox in the years to come," he added.

The Toronto fest also received three other print collections from Mongrel Media, Entertainment One/Les Films Séville and Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler to be similarly stored, revised and archived.

TIFF has launched a fundraising campaign to underwrite its film preservation and will hold a film protection conference on Friday in Toronto to include panels with Katie Trainor of New York's Museum of Modern Art, Indiana University's Andy Uhrich and TIFF's James King.