My Two Cents
Tuesday, 06 July 2021 19:14

Scream bows the Halloween films in 4K, plus our BIG Ultra HD catalog update for the rest of 2021 & remembering Richard Donner

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All right, it’s been a busy last several days here at The Bits. For one thing, just personally, I had my mother visiting from North Dakota all last week for the first time in over two years given the pandemic. And that was great, but of course it set me back on 4K review work (which I intend to catch up on this week).

I’ve also just spent most of today on the phone with industry sources, gathering information for our big preview of 4K Ultra HD catalog releases that are coming in the second half of 2021. And that’s the crux of today’s post here at The Bits, but more on that in a minute.

First, we have a couple more new disc reviews to share with you...

Dennis has posted his thoughts on Andrew V. McLaglen’s 1965 Civil War drama Shenandoah, which stars Jimmy Stewart. The film arrives on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studio Classics on 7/27.

And Stephen has offered a look at John Sturges’ acclaimed 1959 western Last Train from Gun Hill, a VistaVision classic newly released on Blu-ray as part of the Paramount Presents line-up. [Read on here...]

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Now then, in official announcement news this afternoon, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment has just set The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 8/24, with the Digital release expected on 7/23. The Blu-ray and 4K will each include Dolby Atmos audio, with extras on all SKUs set to include 4 video features (By Reason of Demonic Possession, The Occultist, Exorcism of Fear, and DC Horror Presents The Conjuring: The Lover #1).

What’s more, our friends at Vinegar Syndrome have announced a pair of new 4K Ultra HD titles that they have planned for release on 7/27, including Roland Klick’s Deadlock (1970 – distributed for Subkultur) and Tom Löwe’s Awaken (2021 – distributed for Gunpowder & Sky). Click on the title links to visit the company’s pre-order pages.

And of course, the big news today is that Shout! Factory and Scream have revealed more of their September release slate, which—in addition to those Laika Blu-ray titles—is set to include Hunters and an Alone in the Dark: Collector’s Edition on 9/14, The Vigil on 9/21, a wide-release version of Transformers: The Movie on 4K Ultra HD on 9/28, and Blithe Spirit (2020) and an Elvira’s Haunted Hills: Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray that same day.

But the real whopper is that Scream has just revealed new 4K Ultra HD Collector’s Editions of John Carpenter’s Halloween, Halloween II, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, and Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, all due on 9/28. Each film is expected to include Dolby Vision HDR and new Dolby Atmos mixes (we understand that Halloween will also include the original mono audio). Each will also include the film in both 4K and HD (on Blu-ray) mastered from new scans of the original camera negative, plus legacy extras. (The first three are additionally approved by cinematographer Dean Cundy.) Halloween and Halloween II will be 3-disc sets, while the rest are 2-disc. You can see the cover artwork above left and also right here below. And all of them are now available for pre-order on Amazon by clicking on the covers...

Halloween (4K Ultra HD) Halloween II (4K Ultra HD) Halloween II: The Season of the Witch (4K Ultra HD)

Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (4K Ultra HD) Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (4K Ultra HD) Transformers: The Movie (4K Ultra HD)

As you can see, we also included the wide release cover for Transformers: The Movie in 4K.

So now we come to our big round-up of what’s ahead for 4K Ultra HD catalog titles in the remainder of 2021, based on the latest information from our sources. Most of these titles are as yet unannounced, but many are expected to be revealed soon...

First up, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is still on track to release Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption and Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange in September (the respective street dates are 9/14 and 9/21). Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity—which had been tentatively expected to arrive on 4K UHD in October—has now been delayed until sometime in 2022. Meanwhile, Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) are all due tentatively in 4K on 11/2.

Note that the long-awaited (and “soft” announced by the studio late last year) release of Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth Collection is still coming, though it’s been delayed from its originally-planned Summer 2021 release window to Q3 or Q4. The set will include the theatrical and extended editions of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogies in both remastered Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD, with a small amount of new special features (but not the original Appendices). A tentative street date of 10/5 has been given to retailers, but that’s still subject to change.

Next up in 4K Ultra HD from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable in late September. That should be announced soon. The studio’s planned 4K UHD releases of Michael Mann’s Heat and the animated Who Framed Roger Rabbit are still coming, but those have shifted from their original street dates in August and October. It’s still possible that they could arrive in 2021, but they could also slip to early next year.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has already announced their Columbia Classics 4K Ultra HD Collection: Volume 2 set for release on 9/14, which will include Anatomy of a Murder, Oliver!, Taxi Driver, Stripes, Sense and Sensibility, and The Social Network. But additional 4K titles that the studio is considering for release here in the States this year are Looper, Drive, The Hurt Locker, and The Guns of Navarone. (Looper is already set for release in the UK on 7/12.) The studio is also still planning single-film SKUs of their remaining Volume 1 titles, including Lawrence of Arabia, Gandhi, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jerry Maguire, and A League of Their Own. They have their updated Labyrinth: 35th Anniversary Edition coming on 4K on 8/17 as well.

For fans of StudioCanal, be aware that the company is working on a 4K Ultra HD release of Russell Mulcahy’s Highlander (1986).

Meanwhile, among the 4K titles that Arrow is preparing are Clive Barker’s Hellraiser (1987 – likely due in October) and Peter Jackson’s The Frighteners (1996 – tentatively expected in Q1 2022). When I say “among,” I mean it: The studio has hinted that they’re working on 6-7 different catalog UHD releases for the months ahead.

And finally, Paramount is expected to release Scream and The Addams Family on 4K Ultra HD on 10/12. (The latter will include a restored and full-length dance number.) But they’re also close to announcing the rumored and much-anticipated 4K Ultra HD release of the classic Star Trek catalog films, beginning with a 4-film box set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home on 9/7 (note that 9/8 is the anniversary of the TV debut of Star Trek on NBC back in 1966). These will likely include Dolby Vision HDR and new Dolby Atmos sound mixes. Our sources indicate that Star Trek: The Motion Picture will be the original theatrical version for this first release. The rationale behind the box set seems to be that you have to start with the first film, and then films 2-4 form a coherent story trilogy. Two additional 4K sets may follow (one with Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, and Star Trek: Generations—which concludes the story of the original cast—and another with Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Insurrection, and Star Trek: Nemesis—which concludes the TNG film saga). Last but not least, Paramount should finally deliver the long-awaited Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD upgrade of the Star Trek: The Motion Picture – Director’s Edition sometime in 2022. It’s likely that the studio will refresh their existing Blu-ray editions of these films with the new transfers at some point as well. We expect more on all of this to be revealed at Creation Entertainment’s The “55-Year Mission Tour” Star Trek Convention next month in Las Vegas (August 11-15 at the Rio).

So, that’s what we’ve got for you today by way of a 4K Ultra HD catalog update! Of course, our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits has been updated to include all of this information, along with Amazon and Zavvi pre-order links where available.

Finally today, we’d be remiss if we didn’t take a moment to acknowledge the death of the great director Richard Donner, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Donner, as fans the world over will already know, was the guiding hand behind so many great films, many of them genre titles, including The Omen (1976), Superman (1978), Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut (1980/2006), Inside Moves (1980), The Goonies (1985), Ladyhawke (1985), Lethal Weapon (1987), Scrooged (1988), Maverick (1994), Timeline (2003), and so many more. I personally met Donner on a couple of different occasions, once many years ago during a Superman DVD signing event up at Dave’s Video in Burbank, and again at a private screening for Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut at the Director’s Guild in 2006. He was an absolute gentleman, truly one of the kindest, most generous human beings I’ve had the pleasure to encounter in all my years as editor of The Bits. His smile was broad and his hearty laugh filled any room he was in. Our own Adam Jahnke interviewed Donner back in 2009 in connection with the DVD release of Inside Moves (you can find that here). Donner was widely loved in this industry, as you can tell by the many emotional tributes people have shared since the news of his passing broke yesterday (you can read some of them here via Variety). I also recommend that you check out this piece on The New York Times. Donner believed that even the most fantastical subjects could be made believable on the big screen, provided they were produced with honesty and an eye toward verisimilitude. He proved it by helping us all to believe that a man could fly. And he will be sorely missed.

Richard Donner (1930-2021)

Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

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