Every summer it seems that Hollywood does its best to get audiences excited about the latest “Summer Blockbuster.” I, like many of you, love a great summer action movie. Car chases, catch phrases and over the top explosions are some of the best attributes of this particular genre. But I wonder how many people know about the danger and adventure in shipping motion film?
Nitrate Film is notorious for being highly flammable if it isn’t stored and shipped in proper temperatures and conditions. During the hey-day of nitrate film usage, Wells Fargo shipped huge amounts of it from west coast to east coast and back again. The company magazine The Wells Fargo Messenger has articles abound about the dangers of motion film cans and how to properly store and ship them in order to prevent combustion.
There have been a few occasions where vast amounts of historic film have been lost to fires that are believed to have started from nitrate film spontaneously catching fire. The United States National Archive and Records Administration lost millions of feet of film and George Eastman House lost 329 original negatives. Today’s theater designs are meant to contain a fire in a projection room should one begin.
I myself have been to the movies a few times this summer and have plans to see a couple more. I am certainly thankful that today’s movies leave all the explosions to the screen and not the film.