How to Buy Movies on Film Reels

By Jeff Pennington

Updated September 26, 2017

The ease with which consumers can view video on DVR players, DVD players and on-demand video streaming through the Internet makes the idea of watching movies on 16mm and 35mm film reels seem strange and old-fashioned. Despite this attitude toward the older and less convenient format of film reels, watching films in this manner often makes for a better viewing experience. Many established filmmakers and film buffs believe 16mm and 35mm stock has warmer and richer colors than newer digital formats such as high-definition video. In a world now dominated by digital platforms, you can still buy movies on film reels.

The best way to buy movies on film reels is to start with a search on the web. is a good place to begin. It is a directory of sorts that contains scores of links for those who want to rent or buy movies on film reels. Scrolling down to the "for sale" section reveals a variety of links to businesses that specialize in selling equipment so that you can set up a movie projector and watch movies, both classic and contemporary, on film reels.

The first film reel retailer that bears a close look is Modern Sound Pictures. It sells leader and splicer tape, film storage racks, reel cans and more. Most notable, however, is the sheer breadth of titles it offers in the film reel format. It offers feature films, holiday movies, cartoon shorts and educational shorts.

The next film reel retailer with a good selection is Festival Films (, which specializes in public domain films that can be shown royalty-free on TV or at public events in bars and coffeehouses or in movie theaters for film revivals. The film reel retailer offers classic films by icons such as Charlie Chaplin and others. The website says it offers special features such as low-fade color stock that preserves the “original two-color Technicolor look.”

Items you will need

  • Movie Projector

  • Film Reels

  • Movie Projector Screen


It is advisable to include a note in writing as to which items you want if you are ordering by mail. A .pdf catalog from Festival Films is the best way to view the broad selection of titles it has to offer.


The prices of some of these film reels might be considered exorbitant for some consumers. Prices can go well over $200 for a film reel that contains only 10 minutes of film. It is something to consider when deciding to buy movies on film reels.