My Two Cents
Monday, 14 October 2019 16:25

An LOTR/Hobbit 4K update, new 4K catalog, Shout, Scream & KL Studio Classics titles, Monty Python & more

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All right, thanks for your patience while I was away at the end of last week. My father-in-law passed away, so my wife and I flew across the country to attend his memorial and see family.

But there’s a good deal to catch up on today news-wise, so let’s get right to it. First things first...

Yes, we are aware of the rumors that Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is planning to bring The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit films to 4K Ultra HD. They originated on the excellent 4K website, which (I’m told) found the titles briefly listed on a Warner B2B website for German retailers. All six films were indicated for release on UHD (with the Extended Editions included) and with a tentative street date given of June 25, 2020. All right, now let’s put this in context...

First of all, there’s no doubt that Warner Bros. is going to release these films on physical 4K Ultra HD. These are literally their most demanded catalog titles on the format. Also, 2021 is the 20th anniversary of Fellowship of the Ring. And Amazon’s new Lord of the Rings prequel series, which reportedly begins production next month and will apparently be in production for two years, is likely to debut on Amazon Prime in late 2022. So the studio is certainly going to want to get those films ready for 4K release by then. [Read on here...]

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But checking in with our industry sources (both here in SoCal and New Zealand), we’ve learned some things unofficially. What I’m about to say should not be considered any kind of official statement by either. But... I’m told that there’s nothing to announce yet and that “there’s no truth to this specific rumor.” Now, that sounds a LOT like a pretty boilerplate studio denial, so let me put that in context too...

There’s no doubt that this information came from an official studio source – one of their international marketing sites. What that should tell you is that this IS real and the titles are coming. But if the work has been underway for any length of time at all, my sources would certainly have heard about it before this. So, based on my sources and years of experience, here’s what I think is going on: The studio has very likely finally decided to move forward with the 4K remastering/preparation of these titles for UHD release. The moment that decision was made, it went into the system and word leaked out (via the international studio marketing operation) to retailers. But marketing people are notorious for not being aware of the production process for a title like this.

There is a LOT of work that needs to be done to get all six of these films ready for 4K UHD release, especially with both versions of each film included. The Hobbit films were shot in 5K/3D high frame rate, while The Lord of the Rings films were shot on 35 mm film in Super 35 format. All were finished as 2K Digital Intermediates for theatrical release. So to do this project right, Weta, Wingnut Films, and WB are going to have to rescan all the original camera negative in native 4K (for the Rings films), re-render all the VFX in 4K (or decide to simply upsample the existing 2K), and assemble all-new native 4K DIs for all six films. That’s going to take a while, especially if the project is just beginning (which, as I noted, I suspect it is). So I would guess that June 2020 release date is wildly aspirational.

More likely, it seems to me, is that these titles would released on 4K Ultra HD in 2021 to take advantage of the 20th anniversary of Fellowship of the Ring. Veteran studio watchers will know already that Warner loves to take advantage of such anniversaries for new catalog releases on home video. That’s what they’ve done on 4K with 2001: A Space Odyssey (50th), Gremlins (35th), The Matrix (20th), Batman (1989 – 30th), etc. So that’s what I would put the safe money on if I were betting on this.

Now, I am still in contact with my sources. So if my understanding of the current situation with regard to these titles changes, I will certainly post an update here. Given all of this, we have added the films to our 4K Ultra HD Release List here at The Bits, but we’ve listed them as TBA for 2020 or 2021. The takeaway for 4K fans is this: Rest assured they are almost certainly coming to 4K. But probably not as soon as the recent rumors would suggest. And there is absolutely no official confirmed information about audio and HDR formats yet, so don’t ask. Anyone who tells you otherwise (including me) would just be speculating. Enough said.

Now then, let’s have some other 4K news. We’ve also updated our 4K Ultra HD Release List to add the following titles (with street dates where known and with Amazon pre-order links if available):

  • FoxReady or Not, Ad Astra, Ford v Ferrari, Rollerball (1975)
  • Lionsgate (Studio Canal)Universal Soldier (11/5), Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (11/5), Angel Has Fallen (11/26), The Cotton Club (12/10), Rambo: Last Blood
  • ParamountGemini Man, Terminator: Dark Fate, Top Gun
  • Sony PicturesOnce Upon a Time in Hollywood (11/5), Zombieland: Double Tap
  • UniversalHustlers (12/10)
  • DisneyA Bug’s Life, Up, WALL-E, Monsters, Inc., Monsters University, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, Beauty and the Beast (1991)
  • Warner BrosThe Hobbit films, The LOTR films, Terminator: Salvation

See the list itself (here) for details. And the following titles are now official...

Lionsgate has announced Universal Soldier for release on 4K Ultra HD Combo and Digital 4K on 11/5 (SRP $22.99). The disc will carry over previous Blu-ray extras and will include Dolby Vision HDR and DTS-HD Master Audio sound. This title was scanned from film in native 4K.

Universal has set Hustlers for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 12/10, with the Digital release due on 11/26. Extras will include feature commentary with director Lorene Scafaria. This is a native 4K Digital Intermediate, and the 4K disc will include Dolby Atmos audio and HDR10 high dynamic range.

Universal has finally officially announced the release of Brian De Palmas’ Scarface on 4K Ultra HD on 10/15. The film will be released on newly-remastered Blu-ray and DVD that same day. The 4K will include DTS-X audio and HDR10 high dynamic range (it was scanned from film in native 4K). Two versions will be available – a regular edition (SRP $29.98) and a Limited Edition with a “The World Is Yours” statue replica (SRP $79.98). Both will also include a new Scarface: 35th Anniversary Reunion featurette with Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer.

And finally, back to Lionsgate again: The studio has officially set Angel Has Fallen for release on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD on 11/16, with the Digital release sue on 11/12. Extras will include an Angel Declassified 3-part audio commentary with director Ric Roman Waugh and 6 featurettes (Even Angels Fall: The Story, Someone to Watch Over Me: New Blood, Calling All Angels: Casting, True Faith: Authenticity, Fight for You: Stunts and Action, and Earth Angel: Recreating DC). The film was finished as a native 4K DI. Look for Dolby Atmos audio and Dolby Vision HDR.

Also, a quick note: We will be reviewing Fox’s forthcoming 007: The Daniel Craig Collection in 4K here at The Bits, but we’re told that review product is likely to arrive right on (or even just after) street date. So we’ll get it up as fast as we can once it arrives.

Now then, let’s talk regular Blu-ray...

Network’s Monty Python’s Flying Circus: The Complete Series – Norwegian Blue Edition is now available for pre-order on for release on 11/12 with an SRP of $139.99. So if you haven’t yet ordered it directly from Network, now you can get it from Amazon. Here’s the image with pre-order link...

Monty Python's Flying Circus Norwegian Blu-ray Edition (Blu-ray Disc)

Shout! Factory and Scream have announced their January slate of Blu-ray titles which is set to include Trespassers (IFC), The Final Programme, and Depraved (IFC) on 1/7, The Mummy’s Shroud, Demons of the Mind, and Brewster’s Millions: Shout Select on 1/14, Gerry: Shout Select, Sliding Doors: Shout Select, and The Slumber Party Massacre: Limited Edition with exclusive NECA Russ Thorn action figure on 1/21, and Very Bad Things: Shout Select, Let’s Scare Jessica to Death, and Body Parts on 1/28.

Also, we have word of Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ early December line-up, which includes Bert I. Gordon’s The Magic Sword (1961), John Lemont’s Konga (1961), Avi Nesher’s She (1985), Paul Michael Glaser’s Amazons (1984), Richard Franklin’s Running Delilah (1993), and Yves Boisset’s Dog Day (1984) on 12/3, Sidney Lumet’s A Stranger Among Us (1992), John Glen’s Aces: Iron Eagle III (1992), Andy Wilson’s Playing God (1997), and Deran Sarafian’s Terminal Velocity (1994) on 12/10, and Andy Tennant’s The Amy Fisher Story (1993), Antonia Bird’s Mad Love (1995), Ridley Scott’s White Squall (1996), Mary Agnes Donoguhe’s Paradise (1991), and Chris Columbus’ Heartbreak Hotel (1988) on 12/17. The company is also working on Francesco Rosi’s Lucky Luciano (1974), René Clément’s The Deadly Trap (1971) and And Hope to Die (1972), and Stanley Kramer’s The Runner Stumbles (1979) for release on Blu-ray in 2020.

And October Warner Archive Blu-ray releases include Veronica Mars (2019): The Complete First Season (10/22), Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark (10/22), Days of Wine and Roses (10/29), and Mr. Nice Guy: Extended Original Cut (10/29). From Beyond the Grave, Shazam!: The Complete Live-Action Series, and The Fearless Vampire Killers are all now shipping.

Also today, we’d like to take this opportunity to recognize the passing of actor Robert Forster, of Jackie Brown, El Camino: A Breaking Bad Film (his last project), London Has Fallen, Mulholland Dr., and The Black Hole fame. He was 78. You can read more here via The New York Times.

We’d also like to share the trailer for an upcoming documentary film on the life and work of veteran stop-motion animator Phil Tippett. It’s called Mad Dreams and Monsters. The film is currently screening on the festival circuit and we expect a release on Blu-ray and DVD in 2020. You can visit their Facebook page here.

And that’s all for today. Back tomorrow with more. Stay tuned...

(You can follow Bill on social media at these links: Twitter and Facebook)


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