CineSavant Column

Tuesday November 27, 2018


Various notes from readers have made me aware of the patchy availability and missed/moved street dates for some Blu-rays released after September. I found out that there is a problem by writing Warners’ George Feltenstein about the issue of the Warner Archives’ new Blu-ray of The Thing from Another World. It’s been up at Amazon, but its status has been changing from ‘order now’ to ‘temporarily unavailable.’

The quick news on this issue is that The Thing listed on Amazon is real and not a mistake, so if you order it, it will come. Some buyers are just receiving their copies now. The availability question delayed the shipping of review copies, which normally come at least a week before street date — that’s why I didn’t even know it had been released.

Why are street dates changing, or becoming obscured? George tells me that there is at present an industry-wide Blu-ray replication capacity shortfall, that is just now clearing up. This inability to press the discs fast enough has caused grief with the release dates and marketing schedules of more than one Blu-ray company. When dates are changed at the last minute, info posted on Amazon doesn’t always catch up quickly. George says that small companies are hit the hardest, but even Criterion has been affected, with their discs of The Magnificent Ambersons and True Stories being pushed back a week or so.

The good news for disc companies is that the replication capacity issue is straightened out just in time for the holidays when the sales volume goes up. The Warners titles slated for the 11th and 18th of December will street as scheduled. Technically The Thing is at present an unofficial ‘Amazon Exclusive,’ because the machinery to sell it through the WB Shop was put on hold, and now has to be re-started. That’s probably too much detail, but it does explain why searching for ‘The Thing from Another World Blu-ray’ doesn’t yield results at the fairly efficient WB Shop. At least, not at this exact moment of writing.

Meanwhile, the highly awaited Dark of the Sun has quietly been made available at the WB Shop, without marketing materials being sent out, either. Maybe reviews for these will have to wait for later.

Talking with George is great because he fills me on restoration news inside the business. I do have several other studio home video contacts, but I long ago stopped asking questions about what’s coming out or what’s in the works. It’s all proprietary information. Any scoops are reserved for in-house disclosure, and I wouldn’t want to get anyone in trouble. By now there’s likely a full rundown on The Thing over at the Warner Archive Collection’s Facebook page.

George did tell me I could confirm that the new The Thing disc is indeed a major restoration: all of the scenes previously cut for a 1950s reissue have been restored from 35mm elements, instead of the fuzzy 16mm sources seen on the old DVD and on TCM cablecasts. The title sequence that had been re-formatted for widescreen for the re-issue, has been restored to the original 1:37 Academy version. I can’t wait to hear the Dimitri Tiomkin music score in full-resolution HD audio.

And it finally happened over at Trailers from Hell… I got about thirty seconds into a trailer commentary by director Brian Trenchard-Smith, stopped watching and immediately ordered the Blu-ray. It’s a Spanish film called Wild Tales (Relatos salvajes) made of several stories about revenge, and it looked perfect for home viewing. After I see it I’ll go back and listen to all of the commentary. Sony gets some of the best new foreign films, but review access is difficult; TFH is good just for finding out that some of these titles exist.

I’ve already said that Trenchard-Smith is my favorite TFH ‘guru’; he’s always saying something highly interesting. Other recent goodies, just to name two, are Allison Anders on Roger Corman’s Reform School Girl and Allan Arkush on William Wellman’s Wild Boys of the Road.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson