Hollywood Faces High Prices In Times Of Japan’s Disaster
First came the tips: Because of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier this month, Hollywood movie and television studios are facing a dire shortage of master tape, a crucial piece of equipment for television and movie production. “Hoarding, price-gouging, a crisis,” one studio worker told us.
But chasing down the reality about the tape squeeze is like hunting down a digital Sasquatch — everybody’s seen a footprint, but nobody seems to have met the problem face-to-face.
“It’s akin to one of those situations where people go to the grocery store and buy up all the water,” said Bill Missett, an executive with the LaserPacific Media Corporation, which uses tape in its post-production services. Mr. Missett said LaserPacific had a substantial stock of tape on hand, though he said he could not say for certain whether the stockpile would last for weeks or months.
Many TV shows rely on tape that is manufactured in Japan. Studios use a similar product to shoot movies and store master copies of films. (Digital storage methods are increasing, but, counterintuitively, it costs more to store a digital master of a movie – about $12,500 a year – than it does to keep a conventional master, which costs about $1,050 a year.)