Just as mum has been the word on Casino Royale, it has been similarly quiet on the James Bond DVD front. With word coming last year that MGM had hired Lowry Digital to remaster nine 007 films, very little has been revealed about these new releases. While the DVDs are certain to contain new supplementary material to top the previous “Special Edition” releases, most of the information regarding these upcoming releases has been of a technical nature.
In a November article from Sound and Vision Magazine, John Lowry himself confirmed all 20 Bond films would be getting a makeover and was quizzed on what fans can expect from these brand new releases…
Q: Can you tell me what movies you’re working on at the moment?
John Lowry: We are doing work for four major studios, but I can’t talk about most of those yet. We are working on Aliens of the Deep for Jim Cameron. The other work that I can talk about is on three James Bond movies that are in various stages of restoration.
Q: Which ones?
John Lowry: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, and we’re finishing up some work on Goldfinger.
Q: The picture quality of the previous DVD releases was disappointing.
John Lowry: These are stunning – they’ll blow your socks off. We’re doing all 20 James Bond movies – nine with 4K scanning, the others in high-definition.
Q: Do the nine include all the Sean Connery ones?
John Lowry: I believe they’re all in that group, yes. They wanted the older films to be restored as well as they could be. But keep in mind that Dr. No was a relatively low-budget film, made with no concept that this would lead to the parade of films that followed. So it was shot in a hurry and has some real challenges, like hairs in the film gate. By the time we got to the third and fourth Bond movies, the quality had improved immensely – very professional by the time of, say, Thunderball.
Q: Describe the differences we’d see between the previous Bond DVDs and the images you’re creating now.
John Lowry: The major difference we get using high-definition scanning and processing is the higher resolution that migrates to the DVD. It breaks the rules, but it works. You Only Live Twice was one of the films we worked on to demonstrate the process to studio executives. We scanned and enhanced the material, and then reduced it to DVD resolution to show the folks at MGM what the DVD would look like. Comparing that with the prior results – it was like a brand-new movie. It has to do with whether you process at high-def or you process at 2K or 4K and then reduce to high-def. Certainly the best results we get – for HDTV broadcasting and future high-def DVDs – are on things we process at a higher resolution. The fine detail does migrate down to the next level, without question.
Lowry was also quizzed on a fanboy’s dream: the potential re-releasing of the Bond films in theatres. Whilst the response was not overly positive – “I haven’t heard anything, but I do know that when these are finished, we could have some stunning theatrical prints,” said Lowry, citing You Only Live Twice as one highlight – Lowry emphasised that as digital cinema becomes more of a reality, the process of re-releasing older films will become much cheaper for distributors.
To read the interview in its entirety, head on over to Sound and Vision Magazine.
To stretch your memories back even further, early last year, DVDAnswers.com got their hands on two prototype packaging arrangements for the series. While there’s all likelihood what we’ll end up with will be a totally different arrangement, the prototype sets are unlike anything you’re likely to have currently sitting on your DVD shelf.
Word is the original plan was to release the new DVDs to coincide with the theatrical opening of the next James Bond film at the end of 2005. However, with Casino Royale now due to hit screens in late 2006, fans can expect a slightly longer wait to see all 20 films unlike they’ve never been seen before.
Stay tuned to CBn for all the latest on the upcoming DVD releases.