This has been a stunning week of Blu-ray news (most of which I’ll get to posting in due time), all released surrounding the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The news that walloped me the hardest is that 2012 will be the year that Universal will finally offer up select titles from it’s beloved collection of monster films in new, restored Blu-ray releases!! That’s right, the gods of monsters and the gods of HD have, at long last, seen fit to allow me to own the original 1930s Dracula and Frankenstein films in glorious 1080p!
I should clarify here – Universal has not officially announced the release of those films on Blu…yet! But they have made clear that they’re restoring them and eleven others at great expense (“…three to six months each and cost $250,000 to $600,000 per title” according to Universal’s Technical Operations Head Michael Daruty) and that we can expect a Universal Monsters Blu-ray boxed set, along with a Hitchcock set before the end of the year. And though a great number of the films to be restored have yet to be officially announced for release on Blu-ray, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet we’ll see them all before the year is out. In fact, early dates have already leaked for Pillow Talk and Jaws! The complete list of films announced for restoration is as follows:
- All Quiet on the Western Front (1930 – available on Blu-ray February 14, 2012)
- Dracula (1931 – directed by Tod Browning)
- Dracula (1931 – Spanish language version directed by George Melford)
- Frankenstein (1931)
- The Bride of Frankenstein (1935)
- Abbott and Costello’s Buck Privates (1941)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (1962 – available on Blu-ray January 31, 2012)
- The Birds (1963)
- Pillow Talk (1959 available on Blu-ray May 1, 2012))
- The Sting (1973)
- Jaws (1975- available on Blu-ray August 14, 2012)
- Out of Africa (1985 – restored version available on Blu-ray March 6, 2012)
- Schindler’s List (1993)
From the press release:
- “Universal Studios Home Entertainment will kick off the celebration in January with a special 50th anniversary release of To Kill a Mockingbird, debuting on Blu-ray for the first time ever. Throughout the year Universal will pay tribute to other influential films in the Universal library with special events and Blu-ray releases of such iconic classics as Jaws and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which celebrates its 30th anniversary.
Universal will reveal an updated animated logo tied to the centennial. The animated logo will make its first appearance in front of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax at its premiere in February and for that film’s U.S. theatrical release on March 2nd. (The new static version of this logo was unveiled today and is featured below.) Other activities surrounding the studio’s 100th anniversary include a vibrant social media campaign, special events, theme park activities, promotions and many surprises to engage fans throughout the yearlong celebration.
“This is a proud moment for all of us who’ve had the privilege of working at Universal Pictures,” said Ron Meyer, Universal Studios President and COO. “Our centennial is designed to bring special memories back to longtime movie lovers and fans and to engage new audiences with our extraordinary library of films for the first time. Our goal, 100 years later, is to preserve, restore and continue the iconic legacy of this studio for generations to come.”
Fans and film enthusiasts can start celebrating online today at the official Universal Centennial website, a one-stop destination dedicated to Universal’s 100 years. The site, as well as a number of social media platforms, will bring the centennial to life online. Universal will be sharing archival content on its brand new Tumblr page; fans of Universal classics on Facebook will find exclusives and special opportunities across their favorite pages; followers of @UniversalPics on Twitter can find the activities using the hashtag #Universal100; Foursquare users who check in at iconic Universal locations such as the studio and theme parks will be able to unlock special behind-the-scenes tips and content; and for those who are followers of fashion, Universal’s Pinterest account will be drawing inspiration from favorite films for everyone’s Pinboards, starting with 10 inaugural titles of pop-culture classics such as The Breakfast Club, Scarface, Sixteen Candles, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Bridesmaids.
These online initiatives will roll out throughout various times of the year and will tie back to the Universal Centennial official site.
In the spring select fans will have the opportunity to attend a special gala anniversary celebration on the Universal lot featuring many of the filmmakers and artists who shaped the studio’s history. In addition, the studio will spotlight the 100th anniversary throughout various worldwide film festivals and other featured events, panels and activities.
On April 30, 1912, Universal Film Manufacturing Company filed its certificate of incorporation with the state of New York. In 1915 Carl Laemmle officially opened Universal City, the largest film production facility in the world. Throughout Universal’s 100 years the studio has served as a home for many of the most talented filmmakers of all time (such as Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Peter Jackson, Spike Lee, John Hughes and Judd Apatow) and created films that have touched the hearts of millions and fueled culture’s fascination with cinema. To share the profound legacy of its artists, the studio will highlight their careers with touching personal stories from filmmakers, talent, crews, employees and fans.
Universal’s key centennial activities included throughout the anniversary year are as follows:
Major Film Restoration Commitment
Universal will restore 13 films over the course of the centennial year. The restoration effort includes the following films: All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), Dracula Spanish (1931), Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting and To Kill a Mockingbird.
Unveiling of New Logo
Universal will reveal an updated animated logo at the February premiere of the upcoming feature Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax and at that film’s U.S. theatrical debut on March 2, 2012. The updated logo will be used on all Universal Pictures films going forward and will be integrated into all aspects of the company’s business as well.
Universal Home Entertainment will be introducing a limited edition 100th Anniversary Collector’s Series featuring some of the aforementioned film restorations on Blu-ray in collectible, book-style packaging showcasing rare movie memorabilia and brand new 10-minute video featurettes. In addition, special collections will be released throughout the year, culminating in the highly anticipated Blu-ray releases of Universal’s Classic Monster and Alfred Hitchcock series. A selection of movies that have shaped Universal’s legacy will also be released in commemorative packaging, many of them on Blu-ray for the first time ever.
Theme Park Celebrations
Universal’s Parks and Resorts will help highlight the campaign with centennial-specific content and merchandise throughout both the Orlando and Hollywood locations. The Orlando resort will soon announce a specially themed entertainment experience that will celebrate Universal’s heritage. At the iconic Hollywood park the world-famous Studio Tour features expert guides that will take guests on a tour through 100 years of moviemaking history on the Universal Studios production backlot. Tours are conducted daily, visiting TV and movie sets ranging from the early Universal Studios monster film classics to current productions.
Website and Social Media Campaign
Universal will be engaging fans across multiple social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr and Pinterest. At the center of all online initiatives lies a rich, robust website dedicated to all things related to the yearlong celebration of Universal’s 100th Anniversary.