fbpx 1975-2015 | George Eastman Museum

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Technicolor ceased dye-transfer printing in the 1970s and completed the transition to modern color film processing. The expertise and technology were not wasted, however, as Technicolor engineers from the British laboratory helped supervise the installation of new dye-transfer equipment in China. Beijing Film and Video was responsible for printing many films made by Fifth Generation filmmakers such as Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou. In the 1980s, Technicolor introduced the new “silver-retention” process ENR (named after its inventor Ernesto Novelli Rimo) with which contrast and color saturation could be more finely controlled. The ENR process was first used on Warren Beatty’s Reds (1981) and remained in use until recently, notably on films by Clint Eastwood, Bernardo Bertolucci, David Fincher, and Steven Spielberg.

After the first digital cinema installations in the 1990s, Technicolor revived its historic dye-transfer printing process as a premium service for high-profile releases and restorations. More than twenty films had full or partial dye-transfer print runs, including Bulworth (1998), The Thin Red Line (1998), and Apocalypse Now Redux (1979/2001). Although ultimately short-lived, this revival demonstrated a desire from the studios for improved print quality, although in the end it proved incommensurate with the expense.

Throughout the 1980s and ’90s Technicolor remained a highly successful business, both servicing international film production and home video duplication. In 1982, the firm was acquired by MacAndrews & Forbes and was resold for a considerable profit in 1988 to Carlton Communications. Since 2001, Technicolor has been owned by the French electronics company Thomson, who rebranded the entire company as “Technicolor” in 2010. Today, Technicolor is a worldwide leader in the media and entertainment sector, providing digital intermediate services, DVD and Blu-ray duplication, visual effects, restoration, and digital distribution.