ONE WAY STREET
Alan's sporadic takes on Film Noir and other aspects of pop culture
Facts about the Universal Studios Fire
In the wake of the fire that swept through Universal Studios last Sunday, there are a lot of rumors, emails and the like concerning the damage to vintage film prints. Instead of playing Chicken Little, here is some information from my partner-in-noir, Eddie Muller that I would like to put up for some balance and clarification.
"To my colleagues,
I'm sending this note to short-stop rumors that have been swirling around in the wake of Sunday's devastating fire at Universal Studios. Conflicting reports have emerged regarding the extent of the damage, especially as it concerns the safety of studio's archival films. Film Noir Foundation director Anita Monga has spoken with our contacts at Universal as of this morning, and it has been confirmed that, while many prints of Universal films were destroyed in the fire, no archival source material was lost.
Our good friend Paul Ginsburg, Universal's VP of distribution, sent an email yesterday to theater bookers who had dates pending explaining that those dates would have to be canceled due to the loss of prints on-site at the Universal lot. Many of Universal's prints are, however, stored at Deluxe, and those films, and their pending playdates, are not affected. Many other Universal prints, and all film negatives, were unaffected. We can all be very thankful that Universal is wise enough to keep materials in various locations.
In the coming weeks we'll be better able to assess the immediate availability of specific titles (we have six Universal films scheduled for Noir City 7 in January, 2009), but for now it is reassuring to know that the damage from this incident is not as catastrophic as it might have been.
The Film Noir Foundation has pledged whatever support and assistance it can provide to our cherished colleagues at Universal. This was a close call: sets can be rebuilt, but once the original source material for a film is gone -- that movie is at risk of extinction.
Please let this information be known to others who may have a concern about the fate of Universal's film archive.
BTW: Here is some additional perspective on the Universal Fire from a New York Times article...