the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

19 December 2011

BECTU officials are due to meet the UK managing director of Technicolor on December 21st to discuss today's announcement of lab closures in the company.

In a press release dated December 19th, Technicolor revealed plans to close film processing laboratories in Madrid and Rome, and to cease the production of cinema prints in London.

This will leave just one film industry lab in the UK, Deluxe, still handling show prints, and expected to take over the work dropped by Technicolor.

At the meeting with union officials the company is likely to blame the closure on the rise of digital projection, which is now used in 50% of screens globally.

Technicolor's output of show prints, the reels of film needed for traditional cinema projectors, fell from 5bn feet in 2005 to 3bn feet last year. With British screens set to hit the 50% digital tipping-point in the next month, observers have been waiting to see which of the two UK companies would pull out first.

No information is available yet about the impact on jobs at Technicolor, although the blow has been softened by a commitment from the company to continue handling rushes and other front-end processing activities in London.

BECTU assistant general secretary Martin Spence said: "The sad, but long-expected, demise of celluloid distribution in the UK has taken its toll on the laboratories industry, just as it has on projectionists in our cinemas.

"It is a devastating blow to a group of highly-skilled workers who take great pride in their jobs, and the union will do everything it can when we meet MD Simon Wilkinson to lessen the impact on our members at Technicolor."