There has not been a conclusive end to films running on reels. While almost all films are projected digitally, there are a few theatres that still run on reels such as the Batcha Theatre in Chennai. It was only in 2013 that digital projection overtook reel projection across the world.
In 2002, a few studios in Hollywood came together to set standards and specification for the move to digital projection. In 2005, the Digital Cinema Initiative’s standards were released. According to it, films must have at least 2k resolution, the film must be transferred on a DCP or a Digital Cinema Package, and the film must have stringent encryption measures.
In India, the move to digital did not wait for the DCI. In 2003, Adlabs Entertainment and Subhash Ghai’s Mukta Arts teamed up to bring digital projection into theatres in smaller towns and cities. The next big push came in 2005 when Chennai based company Qube Cinema Technologies and Mumbai based UFO Moviez began screening in a digital format. The projectors used were of 1.3k resolution, below the DCI standards.
While digital projection has become the norm, filming on reel is still a common practice. The ‘film look’ is said to be very hard to recreate digitally therefore many directors such as Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino, still prefer to shoot on film. However, these films are screened digitally. The reel technology has just about disappeared from the world of film projection.