‘The Wizard of Oz’ 80th Anniversary 4K Release Is the Ultimate Makeover, Say Warner Execs

The Wizard of Oz has gotten a facelift for its 8oth birthday 4K debut, and it looks better than ever, according to Warner executives.

“Never before has a film this old been released in the 4K HDR format,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of theatrical catalog marketing at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, during an Oct. 28 presentation about the restoration on the studio lot. “This is really a huge leap for our company, but it’s representative of the commitment we have for the finest presentation of one of our crown jewels.”

The 1939 classic is being released on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and 4K digital Oct. 29. Directed by Victor Fleming and starring Judy Garland, The Wizard of Oz received five Academy Award nominations, two Oscars, Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Original Score, plus a special award for Outstanding Juvenile Performance by Garland. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz also stars Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr and Jack Haley. The film appears on multiple AFI lists, and in 1989, was part of the inaugural group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress.

The studio went back to the original three-strip negative (retrieved from storage at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, N.Y.) to achieve clarity and color suitable for the new home entertainment format. The classic’s nitrate negative is stored offsite because of its flammability, and the Warner lot can only protect a limited amount of nitrate.

“You’ve heard the term, ‘Fire in a movie theater.’ That’s where it came from,” noted Bob Bailey, VP of operations and sales at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, which handled the new scan.

Warner improved on the 8K, 10 bit scan made 10 years ago for the Blu-ray HD release with an 8K, 16 bit scan and used updated technology.

“You’re going to see a panoply of colors that you could never see before, and yet it is faithful to what was captured on the negative in 1938 when the film was shot,” said Feltenstein.

The process was overseen by Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging colorist Janet Wilson, who has supervised every remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.

“With this format, I can have the full range of color that’s available to me in a Technicolor element,” said Wilson.

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As in the HD restoration, those working on the new version had to make judgment calls about when to remove wires that showed up in the more detailed picture, but they left in much of the original work, including the makeup details.

“That we left, we didn’t touch,” Wilson said. “Because part of the sort of handmade quality of this film is seeing some of those edges on the makeup, and some of those details you don’t want to obscure. You can see things like the burlap on the face of the Scarecrow and the rivets on the head of the Tinman. If you start smoothing out too many things you start to lose some of the details that are there that you want to preserve.”

Improvements in technology also allowed Wilson to better color correct complex scenes such as the move from sepia tone to color when Dorothy first opens the door to Oz.

“Some of the satisfaction doing it this time for me was that I had better tools, and I could see things better,” she said.

The result, Warner executives said, is a version of the film that stays true to the original while making it look fresh.

“I’d like to think that the people who made this film 80 years ago would see this and be amazed by what they see and see that their artistic work was recreated with reverence because we haven’t changed anything,” Feltenstein said. “We’ve just made it look better than it’s ever looked before.”

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc will feature Dolby Vision HDR.

“It’s really unprecedented that a film of this age is being released using this cutting-edge state of the art technology,” said Feltenstein. “The disc right now is the highest form of quality of reproduction in the home. And unless you are in a Dolby Vision cinema, you can’t even see it look this good in a theater.”

Special features on the 4K Blu-ray disc include commentary by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren, as well as the 1990 CBS Special “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.”

Special features on the Blu-ray (included in the combo pack) include:

  • “The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”;
  • “The Wonderful Wizard of OzStorybook” (narrated by Angela Lansbury);
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Frank Morgan”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Ray Bolger”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Bert Lahr”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Jack Haley”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Billie Burke”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Margaret Hamilton”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Charley Grapewin”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Clara Blandick”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Terry”;
  • a music and effects track;
  • the original mono track;
  • sing along tracks;
  • an audio jukebox;
  • the “Leo is on the Air” radio promo;
  • the “Good News of 1939” radio show;
  • the 12/25/1950 Lux radio broadcast;
  • stills galleries; and
  • trailers.

80-Year-Old ‘Wizard of Oz’ Gets Makeover for 4K

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment hosted a presentation on the studio lot Oct. 28 to talk about the restoration of The Wizard of Oz for the 4K UHD release. The studio went back to the three-strip Technicolor negative to restore the film in 8K, 16 bit resolution for the film’s 80th anniversary release.  The classic debuts Oct. 29 on 4K UHD with HDR, including Dolby Vision, on Blu-ray Disc and digital.

‘It: Chapter Two’ Stalks to Digital Nov. 19, Disc Dec. 10 Including 4K

The horror sequel It: Chapter Two will arrive on digital Nov. 19 and 4K UHD combo pack, Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Dec. 10 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Evil resurfaces in Derry as director Andy Muschietti reunites the Losers Club in a return to where it all began with the conclusion to the highest-grossing horror film of all time. The sequel made $209.9 million at the domestic box office.

It: Chapter Two, based on the novel by Stephen King, stars James McAvoy as Bill, Jessica Chastain as Beverly, Bill Hader as Richie, Isaiah Mustafa as Mike, Jay Ryan as Ben, James Ransone as Eddie and Andy Bean as Stanley. Reprising their roles as the original members of the Losers Club are Jaeden Martell as Bill, Wyatt Oleff as Stanley, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie, Finn Wolfhard as Richie, Sophia Lillis as Beverly, Chosen Jacobs as Mike and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben. Bill Skarsgård returns in the role of Pennywise.

In the sequel, set 27 years after the Losers Club defeated the shape-shifting clown Pennywise, he has returned to terrorize the town of Derry once more. Now adults, the Losers have long since gone their separate ways. However, people are disappearing again, so Mike, the only one of the group to remain in their hometown, calls the others home. Damaged by the experiences of their past, they must each conquer their deepest fears to destroy Pennywise once and for all.

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The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of It: Chapter Two will feature Dolby Vision HDR and HDR10+, both sporting dynamic metadata for better picture, as well as Dolby Atmos sound.

Special features on the Blu-ray and 4K release include five featurettes and commentary with Muschietti. The DVD includes the five featurettes.

Mob Drama ‘The Kitchen’ Due on Digital Oct. 22, Disc Nov. 5 From Warner

The female-driven mob drama The Kitchen arrives on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 22 and Blu-ray and DVD Nov. 5 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Based on the Vertigo comic book series from DC Entertainment, the film stars Oscar nominee Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids, Tammy), Tiffany Haddish (Girls Trip, Night School) and Elisabeth Moss (TV’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” TV’s “Mad Men”) as three 1978 Hell’s Kitchen housewives whose mobster husbands are sent to prison by the FBI. The three women take business into their own hands by running the rackets and taking out the competition.

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The film, which earned $12.2 million in domestic theaters, is written and directed by Andrea Berloff, who was nominated for an Oscar for Original Screenplay for Straight Outta Compton.

Extras on Blu-ray include “Running Hell’s Kitchen,” “Taking Over the Neighborhood,” and a deleted scene. “Running Hell’s Kitchen” is included on the DVD.

Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ Coming to 4K Disc and Digital Oct. 1

Pan’s Labyrinth, the 2006 dark fairy tale written and directed by Academy Award-winner Guillermo del Toro, will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The story takes place following a bloody civil war as young Ofelia enters a world of unimaginable cruelty when she moves in with her new stepfather, a tyrannical military officer.  Armed with only her imagination, Ofelia discovers a mysterious labyrinth and meets a faun who sets her on a path to saving herself and her ailing mother.  But soon, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and before Ofelia can turn back, she finds herself at the center of a ferocious battle between good and evil.

The film won three Academy Awards, three BAFTA Awards, the Ariel Award for Best Picture, the Saturn Award for Best International Film, and the 2007 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form.  The film also appeared on more than 20 critic’s top 10 lists for 2006.

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Produced by del Toro, Bertha Navarro, Alfonso Cuaron, Frida Torresblanco, and Alvaro Augustin, the film stars Serio Lopez, Maribel Verdu, Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, and Alex Angulo and is narrated by Pablo Adan.

Pan’s Labyrinth will be available on Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack featuring an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR; a Blu-ray disc of the film; and more than seven hours of previously released special features, including an audio commentary by del Toro. Features also include a video prologue by del Toro; “The Power of Myth”; “The Faun and the Fairies”; “The Color and the Shape”; and “The Director’s Notebook.”

‘Wizard of Oz’ Off to 4K Oct. 29

The 1939 classic The Wizard of Oz will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray combo pack and digital Oct. 29 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Victor Fleming (Gone With the Wind) and starring Judy Garland as Dorothy Gayle, The Wizard of Oz received five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and captured two Oscars, Best Song (“Over the Rainbow”) and Best Original Score, plus a special award for Outstanding Juvenile Performance by Garland. Adapted from L. Frank Baum’s children’s tale about a Kansas girl’s journey over the rainbow, The Wizard of Oz also stars Ray Bolger as the Scarecrow, Bert Lahr as the Cowardly Lion and Jack Haley as the Tin Woodman.

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The film appears on multiple AFI lists, including: 100 Years… 100 Movies (No. 6); 100 Years… 100 Thrills (No. 43); 100 Years… 100 Heroes and Villains (No. 4); 100 Years… 100 Songs (No. 1); 100 Years… 100 Movie Quotes (No. 4); and Greatest Movie Musicals (No. 3). In 1989 The Wizard of Oz was part of the inaugural group of films selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.

A new 8K, 16 bit scan of the original Technicolor camera negative was the basis for the 4K UHD scan, according to the studio. The process was overseen by MPI colorist Janet Wilson, who has overseen every remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.

The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray disc of The Wizard of Oz will feature Dolby Vision HDR.

UHD Blu-ray and Blu-ray special features include commentary by John Fricke with Barbara Freed-Saltzman, Margaret Hamilton, Ray Bolger, Jack Haley, John Lahr, Jane Lahr, Hamilton Meserve, Dona Massin, William Tuttle, Buddy Ebsen, Mervyn LeRoy and Jerry Maren and the 1990 CBS Special “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.”

Blu-ray special features include:

  • “The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz”;
  • “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz Storybook” (narrated by Angela Lansbury);
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Frank Morgan”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Ray Bolger”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Bert Lahr”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Jack Haley”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Billie Burke”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Margaret Hamilton”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Charley Grapewin”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Clara Blandick”;
  • “We Haven’t Really Met Properly: Terry”;
  • a music and effects track;
  • the original mono track;
  • sing along tracks;
  • an audio jukebox;
  • the “Leo is on the Air” radio promo;
  • the “Good News of 1939” radio show;
  • the 12/25/1950 Lux radio broadcast;
  • stills galleries; and
  • trailers.

Family Dynamics Build Conflict in ‘Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters’

Even though he’s a superhero, Batman can’t build a gadget to shield himself from family conflict in Lego DC: Batman — Family Matters.

Voice cast and creators were on hand at San Diego Comic-Con for the world premiere of the direct-to-video title July 21. The animated movie, which involves Batman, Batgirl, Robin and other superheroes facing off against Red Hood, who is obsessed with destroying the Bat-family and all of Gotham City, will be available Aug. 20 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

“It’s kind of an analysis of Batman because he really is the head of the Batman family and there’s a responsibility that goes with that,” said director Matt Peters in an interview before the screening. “How would Batman the crime fighter deal with that? Is he ok with that? Is he comfortable with it? Is it something that he would like to relinquish? Is it something that he would like to take responsibility for? And that’s kind of the story for a hero as well.”

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In the feature, Batman faces different conflicts with several family members, including various Robins.

“You have Batman trying to struggle with being a superhero and a dad at the same time,” said Troy Baker, who voices Batman and noted he’s facing his own dad struggles with a  14-month-old son. “The past, present and future are kind of tag-teaming him because you have Nightwing … you have Jason Todd, you have Red Hood, you have Damian Wayne — we see how much of an important facet Robin is to Batman.”

Jason Spisak, the voice of Red Hood/Jason Todd, finds the disaffected character easily relatable for families.

“A Lego movie is a great chance to have a whole family watch it, and if there’s someone in the family who’s bitter and somebody who’s angst-ridden or whatever, they can see this play out on the screen and then at the end when Batman and Jason have a moment of reconciliation, they can possibly open that door in their own family,” he said.

Then there’s Batgirl to add some spice.

“With Lego, the humor is far more sardonic,” said Alyson Stoner (Batgirl). “There’s a sassiness and a snarkiness to her in this version.”

While the Lego direct-to-video projects involve a separate universe from the theatrical movies, they have the famous plastic brick world in common.

“We do work hand and hand with Lego,” said producer Rick Morales, adding, “I got to go to Denmark to actual Lego headquarters and work out with their team what they might create for their sets and talk about the possibilities.”

Legos make up all the sets for the DTV title.

“You can pretty much take anything that’s in this movie and build it straight up from Lego bricks,” he said. “It would cost you thousands and thousands of dollars. I wouldn’t recommend it. But most everything in here is really buildable, and we’ve even developed a library with our designers of CGI bricks that are legitimate in scale.”

“Honestly, it’s one of the coolest projects I’ve ever been involved in,” Stoner added. “You just say the word Lego, and it’s pretty awesome.”

Playing one of numerous Batmans on page, screen and home video involves a certain responsibility to the character, Baker said.

“This may be the first introduction to Batman that somebody ever has,” he said. “And if that’s it, I just want them to go, ‘What’s the original?’ All of these pull from these great storylines. So if I make a kid or an adult pick up a comic book, then I’ve done my job.”

‘The Curse of La Llorona’ to Materialize on Digital July 16, Disc Aug. 6

The horror film The Curse of La Llorona will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) July 16 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD Aug. 6 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

From New Line Cinema and producer James Wan, The Curse of La Llorona brings the iconic Latin American legend to life. The film stars Linda Cardellini (Green Book, TV’s “Bloodline”), Raymond Cruz (TV’s “Breaking Bad,” Training Day) and Patricia Velasquez (TV’s “Arrested Development,” “The Mummy” films). Supporting cast includes Marisol Ramirez (TV’s “NCIS: Los Angeles”), Sean Patrick Thomas (the “Barbershop” films, Halloween: Resurrection), Jaynee-Lynne Kinchen (Selfless) and newcomer Roman Christou.

Set in 1973 Los Angeles, the film tells the story of Anna Tate-Garcia (Cardellini), a social worker and widowed single mom struggling to balance the two roles while still coping with the loss of her husband. Anna has navigated a multitude of phantoms and superstitions in her job, usually finding personal demons lurking beneath. When she’s called to the home of Patricia Alvarez (Velasquez) and finds her two young sons locked in a closet, she interprets their terrified mother’s desperate efforts to keep them locked away as a dangerous sign of abuse. Because she is unaware of the very real danger they face, Anna has no idea what she’s about to unleash when she takes the kids into protective custody.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes a DVD and a digital copy.

Special features on disc include “The Myth of La Llorona,” “Behind the Curse,” “The Making of a Movie Monster,” deleted scenes and storyboards.

‘Gremlins’ Coming to 4K UHD for 35th From Warner

The 1984 classic Gremlins will be released on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and digital for its 35th anniversary Oct. 1 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

Directed by Joe Dante (Innerspace, The ‘Burbs) and written by Chris Columbus (The Goonies), the film stars Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, Hoyt Axton and Randall Peltzer, along with the voices of Frank Welker as Stripe and Howie Mandel as Gizmo. At times a horror film and others dark comedy, Gremlins follows a teenager who gets a new pet as a gift and finds it has strange transformative powers.

The Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack includes an Ultra HD Blu-ray disc with the feature film in 4K with HDR and a Blu-ray disc with the feature film and special features. Fans can also own Gremlins in 4K Ultra HD via purchase from select digital retailers.

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Extras include filmmakers’ commentary with Dante, producer Michael Finnell and special effects artist Chris Walas; cast commentary with Dante, Galligan, Cates, Dick Miller and Mandel; behind-the-scenes featurettes; additional scenes with commentary; a featurette on the creation of the creatures; and motion comics.

Studios, Distributors, EMA Team Up on Massive Digital Movie Rental Promotion

A consortium of studios and key digital retailers, cable companies and satellite providers is sponsoring a digital rental movie sale May 31 through June 3 in which consumers can stream up to 250 different movies at prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and 99 cents for older, catalog titles.

The “Ultimate Movie Weekend” initiative, led by the Entertainment Merchants Association (EMA), is believed to be the first time such a coordinated promotion has been undertaken in the United States.

The goal, according to EMA SVP Sean Bersell, is to “introduce consumers who haven’t rented digitally previously to the value and convenience of digital rental, and to entice consumers who haven’t rented digital recently to re-engage.”

The campaign will offer recent releases and catalog movies from Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, and Warner Bros. Participating digital retailers and cable and satellite companies include Altice USA’s Optimum and Suddenlink TV, Amazon Prime Video, the Apple TV app and iTunes, Atlantic Broadband, Comcast’s Xfinity TV, Cox, DIRECTV, DISH, FandangoNOW, Frontier Communications, Google Play, Microsoft Movies & TV, PlayStation Store, Redbox On Demand, U-Verse, and Vudu.

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The tagline for the Ultimate Movie Weekend is “Rent the Biggest Movies for Less.” Participating retailers will offer between 50 and 250 movies at discounted prices as low as $2.99 for recent releases and $0.99 for catalog movies. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale includes some of the latest releases that are not yet available on subscription video services. Among the movies in the promotion are A Star Is Born (2018), Bumblebee, Fifty Shades of Grey, First Man, Forrest Gump, The Hunger Games, Robin Hood (2018), Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Step Brothers, and Wonder Woman.

The promotional campaign will be supported by a significant media buy, social media marketing, direct-to-consumer outreach, and a dedicated website, www.ultimatemovieweekend.com. The Ultimate Movie Weekend sale is patterned after similar successful efforts last year in Australia, France and the U.K.

“While the popularity of digital movie rentals continues to grow, there is the opportunity to introduce even more consumers to the value and convenience of digital rental, so the industry has come together to offer a compelling promotion that we hope will attract new customers and remind infrequent digital renters of this option,” said EMA president and CEO Mark Fisher. “Plus, with the start of the summer, which is traditionally a heavy movie-viewing season, it’s a good time to remind consumers of the pleasure of getting together with family and friends for a movie night.”

According to industry statistics, in the first quarter of 2019, digital rental generated $564 million in consumer spending, which accounted for approximately 10% of all home entertainment consumer spending in the quarter.

“This is the first effort of its kind in the U.S., and the breadth of participants demonstrates that the home entertainment industry is making it a priority to communicate the value proposition of digital rentals to consumers,” said Richard Smith, SVP, domestic digital sales, for Paramount Pictures and chair of EMA’s Ultimate Movie Weekend planning committee. “We see significant potential to grow this sector of the industry, and in doing so grow the overall home entertainment market.”

“Our studio partners have assembled a fantastic slate of movies, many unavailable on subscription services, which FandangoNow will offer at compelling prices,” added Cameron Douglas, VP of home entertainment at Fandango and chair of the EMA. “Convenience and value have always been the hallmark of home entertainment, and these great movies at discounted prices draws attention to the ease and affordability of renting digitally.”