ROCHESTER, N.Y.-To take advantage of what it says is burgeoning global demand for cinematic films and interest in film-making, East-man Kodak Co. is making a massive investment to make the actual film. Separately, the Rochester firm said it is expanding to handle the fast-growing business of recycling its single-use cameras. The film and photographic equipment giant is spending $200 million to build a monolithic ma-chine to make polyester movie-print base film at its huge Rochester complex.
Jim Blamphin, manager of corporate media relations for Kodak, said the machinery will be in a 150,000-square-foot addition to an existing base film-making Kodak Park facility in the Rochester complex. The addition should be completed by mid-1998.
``In the `old days,' like 10 years ago, the movie companies might have sent out about 1,500 prints of a film in its initial release,'' Blamphin said. ``Now that is more like 3,000-4,000 prints and growing. The number of theaters worldwide is growing at an in-credible rate as well, so there is a need to meet the demand for print stock. This is not film for the negatives, it is the film on which the positive image is reproduced and made ready for showing.''
He would not disclose the film line's capacity, but said it would be only one of several at the complex. He said 90 percent of all movies produced in North America are on Kodak film, and a competitor recently dropped out of making print base film.
Besides the huge and growing demand for movies worldwide, the state of New York also streamlined its permit process to make it easier to build in Rochester.
The firm also is celebrating the success of one of the largest recycling projects in its history-that involving its single-use cameras.
``We have recycled 70 million single-use cameras since we first started marketing them, and this is by far the fastest growing of any market segment.'' he said. ``We are expanding our product lines to keep pace.''
Kodak's single-use cameras are recycled when the customer re-turns the camera to a photo pro-cessor to have the film developed. The film is removed and the polystyrene camera bodies are re-turned to Kodak, where they are fitted with new lenses and film and resold. Each time a camera is returned, a mark is placed on the inside, and when 10 marks have been made, the body is ground and made into more bodies.
``We have been so flooded with the cameras, that we have dedicated new equipment for our contractor in Rochester who does the initial collection and sorting of them for us.''
Blamphin claims the recycling rate of 74 percent for the single-use cameras is by far the highest of any commodity in the world, including metal soft drink cans. The company even collects single-use units made by other manufacturers and ships them back to Kodak's competitors.
He said The Outsource, a nonprofit company that employs mentally and physically challenged workers, recently received two huge vibrator sorters that will triple the company's production capacity from Kodak.