My Two Cents
Friday, 23 September 2022 15:43

Uh-oh: Paramount’s WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE Blu-ray has an image quality issue too [UPDATED 9/26]

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Well, go figure. I’d planned on working on disc reviews today, but it turns out that Paramount’s War of the Worlds (1953) 4K color grading issue isn’t the only problem with that release.

First though, the rest of The Bits team has turned in a couple reviews of their own...

Stephen has taken a look at Pierre Chenal’s Native Son (1951) on Blu-ray from Kino Classics.

And Dennis has reviewed Lewis Milestone and Byron Haskin’s The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) on Blu-ray as well, from Kino Lorber Studio Classics proper.

Both titles are worth a look, and I promise that more reviews are on tap for next week, including 4K titles.

Now then (speaking of Byron Haskin), I mentioned yesterday that there’s a color grading problem with Paramount’s new War of the Worlds: Paramount Presents 4K Ultra HD release. [Read on here...]

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To recap: the opening shots of Mars are the wrong color. The first image below is the new 4K, while the second image is Paramount’s own 2005 DVD release of the film. It should go without saying—especially for longtime fans of the film—but Mars should definitely not look blue.

Paramount's 2022 War of the Worlds 4K Ultra HD

Paramount's 2005 War of the Worlds DVD

This would be a bit like Warner Bros. releasing The Wizard of Oz on 4K, only for fans to discover that the Yellow Brick Road was now green. It’d be a problem, is what I’m saying. And Paramount clearly has a problem with their War of the Worlds disc.

But now we’ve learned that’s not the only problem with this release. The package also includes Rudolph Maté’s When Worlds Collide (1951) on regular Blu-ray. And while I was focused on the War of the Worlds issue, the folks over at DVD Beaver have discovered that the color timing for Paramount’s Blu-ray of this bonus film is wonky too. The whole film has a strange brownish cast, and contrast is lacking. The images below come from DVD Beaver’s review (linked here, which has lots more comparison images as well). The first one is Paramount’s new Blu-ray, while the second one is the Imprint Films Blu-ray release from 2020.

Paramount's 2022 When Worlds Collide Blu-ray

Imprint Films' 2020 When Worlds Collide Blu-ray

I’ve checked my review copy just this morning and have confirmed the issue. That is definitely not what a properly-remastered and graded Technicolor film should look like on Blu-ray, and it’s not what this particular film should look like either.

Paramount has obviously blown the color grading on BOTH of these titles, and the studio’s QC process didn’t catch it in either case.

This too is a problem.

Suffice it to say that—unless Paramount delays this release and fixes both discs—our recommendation here at The Digital Bits is that fans should avoid this release at all costs. If you really want to own these films on Blu-ray now, Criterion’s War of the Worlds delivers a better image experience of that film, while Imprint Films’ When Worlds Collide Blu-ray is the better choice for that film.

Hats off to the folks at DVD Beaver for catching this—again, be sure to check out their review here.

I’ll have my own in-depth review of this 2-film release here at The Bits on Monday, when I sincerely hope to be able to report that Paramount has decided to correct these errors and issue replacement discs. We’ll see…

Until then, I bid you all a fine weekend. Peace out.

[Editor’s Update 9/26/22: Here is Paramount Home Entertainment’s official statement RE: the Mars color grading error in War of the Worlds (1953) on 4K Ultra HD:

“We sincerely appreciate fans’ passion for War of the Worlds and their attention to detail. The scene that has been referenced as being more blue than red was taken from the original three-strip Technicolor negative. Paramount chose not to employ additional color correction, but instead consulted original IB Technicolor prints and matched the look from there.”

This is obviously nonsense; they simply don’t want to spend the money to correct the disc. Very, very disappointing. I’m told, however, that the studio is still looking into the problem with When Worlds Collide (1951) on Blu-ray (which is also in the package). Regardless, it’s becoming readily apparent that Paramount has a quality control (QC) issue that needs to be addressed going forward.]

[Editor’s Update 9/29/22: Interestingly, I found this comment on Facebook from former ILM animator, VFX supervisor and film producer Peter Kuran, responding to Paramount’s statement: “The reason it would be blue would be theatrical IB tech prints are balanced for a carbon arc light source which is very yellow. Better to use a 16mm IB Tech print which is balanced for 3200-3500 more normal.” That seems a reasonable conclusion to me. –BH]

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