“It’s a Silent Fire”: Decaying Digital Movie and TV Show Files Are a Hollywood Crisis [The Hollywood Reporter]

“It’s a Silent Fire”: Decaying Digital Movie and TV Show Files Are a Hollywood Crisis [The Hollywood Reporter]

BY GARY BAUM, CAROLYN GIARDINA

March 15, 2024 | While David Zaslav and Bob Iger’s tax-optimization strategy of deleting films and TV shows from their streamers has triggered plenty of agita among creators, the custodians of Hollywood’s digital era have an even greater fear: wholesale decay of feature and episodic files. Behind closed doors and NDAs, the fragility of archives is a perpetual Topic A, with pros sweating the possibility that contemporary pop culture’s master files might be true goners, destined to the same fate as so many vanished silent movies, among them Alfred Hitchcock’s second feature, The Mountain Eagle, and Ernst Lubitsch’s Oscar-winning The Patriot.

It’s underscored by initiatives such as Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation. “The preservation of every art form is fundamental,” the industry icon says on a video on the organization’s web site. For the business, these are valuable studio assets — to use one example, the MGM Library (roughly 4,000 film titles including the James Bond franchise and 17,000 series episodes) is worth an estimated $3.4 billion to Amazon — but there’s a misconception that digital files are safe forever. In fact, files end up corrupted, data is improperly transferred, hard drives fail, formats change, work simply vanishes. “It’s a silent fire,” says Linda Tadic, CEO of Digital Bedrock, an archiving servicer that works with studios and indie producers. “We find issues with every single show or film that we try to preserve.” So, what exactly has gone missing? “I could tell you stories — but I can’t, because of confidentiality.”

Read more on The Hollywood Reporter.

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