You may have seen it reported that Warner Bros. currently plans to release The Middle Earth 4K Collection in October of this year. That information comes from two sources. First, the title has been listed in Warner’s internal release database off and on for the past year, with a roughly October/Q4 release timeframe indicated. Second, various online retailers have picked up on this and a few of them have listed the title in their own databases—which typically means that the listing is briefly public before it’s made private again until some kind of official announcement by the studio.
But my sources involved in the actual production are currently telling me that an October release window is unlikely.
Clearly, with Warner’s entire theatrical release slate for 2020 crushed by the ongoing global pandemic, the studio has every reason to want to accelerate their catalog Blu-ray and 4K plans. And we know with confidence that Zack Snyder’s 300, The Wachowski’s V for Vendetta, and Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket are all soon to be announced by the studio for 4K UHD release before the end of the year.
The issue with the Middle Earth titles is that while 4K remastering is well under way by Weta in New Zealand, and the overall production effort has ramped up considerably since we last reported on it here at The Bits earlier this year (and since our report from October of last year), as of this month the project is only about half complete. When you factor in the time required to finish the remaster properly—along with grading, QC, authoring the discs, replication, packaging, and distribution—the title is unlikely to be done in time for October. It’s not impossible, but it’s highly unlikely. Even to release in time for the holidays this year would be something of a stretch. So I continue to believe that it’s more likely we’ll see The Middle Earth 4K Collection arrive in stores in early 2021.
As such, we’ve updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits accordingly.
The good news is, I’m reliably told that the 4K remaster is being done right—much along the lines of Warner’s recent 4K upgrade of The Matrix trilogy films. Yes, it should include both the Theatrical and Extended Editions. And yes, I have confidence that director Peter Jackson will certainly make sure the finish quality is up to his standards.
So, that’s all for now. Back tomorrow with more news, and maybe a little more rumor confirmation, debunking, or clarification, as the case may be. Stay tuned...