Well, they generally shoot on 35mm, then scan at low res to do the "offline edit," then when they have the final film all cut, they go back to the original negatives, and they scan only the footage that made it into the final film at 4k (which resolves to something around 3k, I think) to prepare for the "online edit," where effects and color correction are done. And, actually, if it's got a really big budget (like 80%) of the movies you see in theaters these days) they will do a "film-out" after they color correct/do all the effects on the 4k-scanned final cut. Finally, when all is done and the final cut with sound and everything is done, they use a film recorder (a very expensive machine that generally uses lasers or RGB lights to burn the high res digital image onto the print stock. Distributing in a digital medium is obviously much cheaper, but a lot of theaters are still lagging on digital projectors, so film-out is often the way to go if you want to reach a wide audience.

The 14-stop business does refer to the dynamic range (again, thank you for your corrections) of the actual stock that your shoot on. Like I said, you can kind of think of the color correction stage as "selecting" how much or how little you want out of that range, but it depends on how much you're paying for your online scans.

Agreed, it is better to just shoot away and see what you get, but I guess I just want to be able to zone out specific stocks accurately... that would definitely take some testing of individual stocks though, and I'm not sure how to go about measuring. It's all about composition and subject matter I suppose, but I get a strange masochistic pleasure from technical immersion-- the tools do not make the artist, but if an artist understands his tools, he'll be able to use them much more effectively.