Universal admits classic prints were lost

Perhaps hundreds of classic 35-millimeter film prints burned up in the weekend fire, causing an immediate impact on films available to theaters, museums and other places that use the old stuff. The originals are reportedly safe, but it takes time and about $5,000 to generate each new useable print when the films are old. From the LAT:

"It's a real shame. The timing couldn't be worse," said Bernardo Rondeau, the coordinator of film programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. As part of July's "The Discreet Charm of Charles Boyer" program, LACMA was scheduled to show the French-born actor's 1941 film "Hold Back the Dawn."

The print of that movie, which was originally released by Paramount but is part of Universal's archival collection, was being transferred from New York's Lincoln Center to the Los Angeles museum and may have been in the Universal vault when the predawn blaze broke out Sunday...

In an e-mail sent to several dozen film exhibitors Monday, Universal said the "fire destroyed nearly 100% of the archive prints kept here on the lot. Due to this we will be unable to honor any film bookings of prints that were set to ship from here. Over the next few weeks and months, we will be able to try and piece together what material we do have and if any prints exist elsewhere.".

In the vault were such films as "Frankenstein," "Son of Frankenstein," "Duck Soup," and "Hell's Angels," Nikki Finke reports.

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