Of course, the obvious question everyone is asking (and I mean seemingly everyone, as my email and messaging was overloaded this morning with the question) is: Where’s the 4K?
And it’s a good question, given this information from Paramount’s own press release:
“Coppola and his production company American Zoetrope worked from a 4K scan of the original negative to undertake a painstaking, frame-by-frame restoration of both the new Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER, Coda: The Death of Michael Corleone and the original The Godfather: Part III. In order to create the best presentation possible, Zoetrope and Paramount’s restoration team began by searching for over 50 original takes to replace lower resolution opticals in the original negative. This process took more than six months and involved sifting through 300 cartons of negative. American Zoetrope worked diligently to repair scratches, stains, and other anomalies that could not be addressed previously due to technology constraints, while enhancements were made to the original 5.1 audio mix.”
So, we asked Paramount about it and haven’t heard back. But another source has let us know that there is a tentative plan at the studio to release all three Godfather films in 4K. One can only assume sometime in 2021. Don’t take that as confirmation, but we do know for a fact that 4K masters exist of these films, and I have personally seen footage from The Godfather in 4K a number of times at various 4K UHD Alliance events.
I really wish Paramount would just come out and say that. Back in the day, when New Line announced The Lord of the Rings Theatrical Editions on DVD and Blu-ray, they let fans know right in their press release that the Extended Editions were coming for those who prefer to wait. Paramount’s strategy seems to be to see if people buy the remastered Blu-ray, then use that as a justification to come out with a 4K six months later. Which means lots of fans end up buying the film twice.
So I would like to suggest that either Paramount should release a 4K from the start, or at least let people know there may be one later. It’s the right thing to do.
And I say this at the same time I want to publically give the studio a ton of credit for finally ramping up their catalog Blu-ray and 4K operation—they’re putting lots of great Paramount Presents remastered editions out, they’re putting long-awaited deep catalog titles out. (Popeye? Timeline? Never thought we’d see those on BD.) They’re licensing out titles like When Worlds Collide and War of the Worlds. And they are finally putting Beverly Hills Cop out in 4K, not to mention Collateral, for which we’re thankful. I still do think they’re finally going to get around to the classic Star Trek films in 4K at some point, and it looks like The Godfather films and others, so good on them. I know from direct communication with our readers here at The Bits that it’s appreciated. Just please a little better communication with those customers in the future, so they don’t feel so in the dark.
All right, moving on... I mentioned The Lord of the Rings a minute ago. That’s no accident. I’ve been able to confirm with sources in New Zealand that Weta is expecting to deliver the final 4K masters for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films (both the theatrical and extended cuts) to Warner Bros. Home Entertainment later this month (as in October). So, fingers crossed, a December Ultra HD release is looking good. Retail leaks suggest that the studio is shooting for 12/1 or thereabouts, but we’re also hearing from multiple industry sources that replication capacity is currently creaking under the load of so many studios trying to get catalog titles out for Q4. Warner themselves have had to delay their Bugs Bunny and The Flintstones Blu-ray releases by a couple weeks each. So until Warner actually makes their official announcement on these titles, just keep in mind that any street dates you’re hearing now are aspirational. Again, fingers crossed. But LOTR and The Hobbit are 100% on the way to 4K UHD.
One quick additional note: A number of readers have asked if The Hobbit will be presented in high frame rate (HFR) on 4K, like Billy Lynn and Gemini Man. And the answer is probably not. The Hobbit was shot in 48fps. But the 4K UHD format doesn’t support 48fps, so it would have to be converted to 60fps. Billy Lynn and Gemini Man were actually shot in 120fps, which is much easier to convert to 60fps. Converting 48fps would have to involve some kind of 3-2 pull down, which might introduce image artifacts. And it’s also just highly unlikely that Warner would want to take a risk on display/projector compatibility issues on a title this big with a replication schedule this tight. So I would bet the answer is almost certainly no HFR for now. Just FYI.
Now then... it appears that Bill and Ted Face the Music will be arriving on Blu-ray and DVD on 11/10, with the Digital release expected on 10/20. We would expect an official announcement very soon. No word of a 4K Ultra HD release here in the States yet, but there is one planned for the UK. Stay tuned on this one.
Also today, our friends at ClassicFlix would like you all to know that they’re launching a new crowd-funding effort to restore the old Our Gang (Little Rascals) shorts in HD. The result would almost certainly be released on Blu-ray Disc. They’ve just launched the effort and the campaign runs for 28 more days. So if you’d like to support them, please click here and pitch in!
In other news today, we need to take a moment to acknowledge the passing of the great singer/actor Helen Reddy. Baby Boomers will know her best for her hit singles Delta Dawn and I Am Woman. But for my generation, it was her appearance in Disney’s live action/animated Pete’s Dragon that she made her biggest mark. You’ll find a sample below. Reddy was 78. She will missed. You can read more here at The New York Times.
While we’re doing YouTube clips, we’d be remiss if we didn’t share today’s trailer for BOЯДT SUБSЄQUЄИT MOѴIЄFILM (aka Borat 2) which is coming to Amazon Prime on 10/23. This ought to give some of you a much-needed laugh...
And we’ll leave you today with a look at the cover artwork for a couple of the titles mentioned above (with Amazon pre-order links if available)...
Cheers and stay tuned!