My Two Cents
Thursday, 08 August 2019 17:00

The Star Wars Saga is almost certainly coming to 4K Ultra HD in 2020, plus Discovery: S2, DS9 doc in 4K & more

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All right, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover today, so bear with us.

First, very quickly, we’re currently working on those disc reviews we mentioned the other day, so watch for those starting tomorrow. But breaking news – and the need to dig into it – has keep us busy yesterday and today.

Let’s get some regular announcement news out of the way first...

CBS Home Entertainment has set Star Trek: Discovery – Season Two for release on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/12. The 4-disc Blu-ray release will include audio commentary on 4 episodes (with various combinations of Sonequa Martin-Green, Anson Mount, Ethan Peck, Alex Kurtzman, Jonathan Peck, and Olatunde Onsunanmi), promos, deleted scenes, a gag reel, and 8 featurettes (Star Trek: Discovery: The Voyage of Season Two, Enter the Enterprise, The Red Angel, Designing Discovery: Season Two, Prop Me Up: Season Two, Dress for Success: Season Two, Creature Comforts: Season Two, and Creating Space). You can see the cover artwork at left and also below. [Read on here...]

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Speaking of Star Trek, the new What We Left Behind – Looking Back at Star Trek: Deep Space Nine documentary is now available on iTunes in native 4K sans HDR (though the remastered visual effects shots are upsampled). It’s likely to become available in 4K elsewhere as well, though don’t expect a physical 4K release anytime soon.

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has set Men in Black: International for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 9/3, with the Digital release due on 8/20. The 4K will include exclusive deleted scenes and 2 exclusive featurettes ( and Neuralyzer: Like It Never Even Happened). To this, the Blu-ray will add 8 more featurettes (New Recruits, Classic Suits, Let’s Do This! Inside the Action & Stunts, Look Right Here: Gadgets, Weapons, & Rides, Expanding the Universe of MIB, Frank & Pawny’s Peanut Gallery, Les Twins Leave It on the Floor, In Case You’ve Been Neuralyzed: MIB Recap, and The MIB Meet the NBA) and a Gag Reel.

Studio Canal has announced that they’re working on a new 4K Ultra HD release of the Alan Parker neo-noir film Angel Heart (1987) for release on 10/14. The film has been scanned in native 4K with a new Dolby Vision HDR grade. Extras will include an Alan Parker interview excerpt from Cinéastes des années 80, audio commentary the director, an introduction by the director, the 5-part A Background in Voodoo documentary, the original EPK extras, and a gallery, plus a 48-page booklet. We expect it to be released in the States by Lionsgate, though that is TBA.

Also likely coming from Lionsgate and Studio Canal are Red Heat and Universal Soldier, but again those have yet to be announced officially.

We’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List with several more titles, including Seven Worlds, One Planet (TBA from BBC Home Entertainment), Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie (coming on 10/29 from Discotek Media), Casino (coming from Universal on 9/10), Yesterday (coming from Universal on 9/24), Scarface and American Gangster (coming in October from Universal), both versions of Aladdin (coming on 9/10 from Disney), Shaft (2019 – coming from Warner Bros. on 9/24), and The Wizard of Oz: 80th Anniversary Edition (soon to be announced by Warner Bros for September or October). We’ll come back to the subject of 4K in a moment.

Meanwhile, Kino Lorber Studio Classics has announced their November Blu-ray slate, which is set to include Naked Alibi (1954), It Always Rains on Sunday (1947), Seven Days to Noon (1950), The Man Between (1953), and Woman in Hiding (1950) on 11/5, The Gun Runners (1958), Madigan (1968), Charley Varrick (1973), Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974), Return to Macon County (1975), Street People (1976), and Winter Kills (1979) on 11/2, Un Flic (1972), Diabolically Yours (1967), Farewell, Friend (1968), and Someone Behind the Door (1971) on 11/19, and The Holly and the Ivy (1952), Christmas in July (1940), and The Pink Panther Cartoons: Volume 6 (1978-80) on 11/26.

And Warner Archive now has a street date for The Jetsons: The Complete Original Series on Blu-ray. Look for it to start shipping on 9/10.

All right then... a few readers now have asked us about Disney’s 9/10 release of the Pixar animated films Finding Nemo, Finding Dory, Cars, Cars 2, Brave, Ratatouille, Inside Out, and The Good Dinosaur on 4K Ultra HD. Specifically, they’re wondering about the remaining Pixar titles: A Bug’s Life, Monsters Inc., Monsters University, Up, and Wall-E. The reason they’re wondering is that Disney is also re-issuing those other films on regular Blu-ray on 9/10 in new packaging. So where’s the 4K versions of those?

Here’s the deal: This is a pretty routine catalog re-release pattern that Disney has been using for a couple of years now. Remember how, last year, Disney and Marvel re-issued all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe catalog titles in new “Marvel 10th Anniversary” packaging? Now, this year, they’re all being released on 4K Ultra HD with that same cover artwork (all of them will be out by the end of 2019). So those remaining Pixar titles are coming to 4K too, rest assured. It’s just that by re-issuing them on standard Blu-ray first, Disney gets to take one last bite at the apple on that format and clear out some stock doing it. I would bet those remaining 4K titles are either coming by the end of 2019 or early next year.

Now... if you read the headline above, you’ll recall I mentioned that Star Wars is almost certainly coming in 4K Ultra HD next year. This is something we’ve been saying here at The Bits for quite a while now, and those titles have been listed in our 4K Ultra HD Release List here for several months. This is obviously not yet official, but I think it IS further evidence of the truth of next year’s 4K plans: Information has begun to leak from retailers (including cover artwork) that all 10 of the existing Star Wars films are going to be re-issued on regular Blu-ray in September (yes, next month) and I’d bet the official announcement is due any day now (possibly at the D23 Expo in a couple weeks). This would indicate that Disney is taking one last bite at the apple on regular Blu-ray with these films. And per the studio’s Marvel strategy, all 10 of the films are being released with brand new matching cover artwork. Here’s at look at that leaked artwork (and a shout-out is due here to Jordan Maison, who appears to have spotted them in the wild first)...

Star Wars: The Phantom Menace (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith (2019 - Blu-ray reissue)

Solo: A Star Wars Story (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2019 - Blu-ray reissue)

Star Wars: A New Hope (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Wars: Return of the Jedi (2019 - Blu-ray reissue)

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2019 - Blu-ray reissue) Star Trek: Discovery - Season Two (Blu-ray Disc)

[Editor’s Note: You’ll have to excuse the appearance of the Star Trek: Discovery – Season Two cover art there, but it's the only one of the above titles that’s actually official as of this moment (and available for pre-order on Amazon).]

You probably know what I’m about to say: Given all of the above, I’d bet my left arm at this point that Disney is going to release all of these films in 4K Ultra HD next year, probably early in the year timed to the home video release of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, with this same cover artwork.

Now, before you all start bombarding me with questions like, “Are they going to include the original theatrical versions?!” take a deep breath, folks. I don’t know. None of this is official yet. And if I were you, I would assume not so you don’t start getting your hopes up. I’ve seen a bit of speculation online to suggest that there are plans to include the theatrical cuts of the original three films in 4K, but history suggests you should treat this with a grain of salt.

That said, it’s certainly possible. Lucasfilm DID allow the Academy to show a rare 70 mm print of the original version of Star Wars (1977) back in June... and even a week before that was announced it would have seemed inconceivable. So it’s possible there’s been a softening by George Lucas and that Disney does have plans to include those versions in any 4K release. I’ve said MANY times here at The Bits in recent years that – at some point – Disney would absolutely release those versions. The studio simply knows too well how badly fans want them and how much money they could make by including them. Could it happen with a 4K release next year? I don’t know and I think it would be safer to assume not and allow ourselves to be surprised.

But I do feel pretty confident in saying that the Star Wars films are coming to 4K in 2020 in one form or another – Disney is just being way to aggressive in releasing the entire MCU and Pixar catalogs on the format this year. Once they’re done with those (and they will be in a few months), Star Wars is the only major franchise they won’t yet have exploited fully in 4K (Solo and The Last Jedi aside). And the release of the final film in the current Star Wars saga, The Rise of Skywalker, is the obvious time to do it.

[Editor’s Note: Again, do keep in mind that the D23 Expo is coming to Anaheim on August 23-25. That would be an obvious place for the studio to make some kind of official comment.]

All right, back tomorrow with reviews. Stay tuned...

-Bill Hunt

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