A studio exec has written and clarified some points about the Universal fire and the films (prints) that were destroyed. First, he says, “No archival material is stored at Deluxe — circulating prints of the more popular titles are kept there. Those prints, of course, remain unharmed.”
Secondly, “A monumental amount of Universal’s archival prints — highly precious, still screened on occasion, and not to be confused with original camera negatives — were destroyed in the fire.”
Thirdly, “Even though the negatives are allegedly safe in New Jersey, this is still a colossal tragedy. It will take Universal years — if not decades — to replace all the lost archival prints (assuming they even have the inclination).”
“Also remember that Universal owns pre-1950s Paramount, so much of those archival prints have been lost as well. UCLA maintains nitrate prints of those titles, but those are not lent out for screenings.”