Today, after much speculation and anticipation, Warner Home Video (WHV) sent out their press release and artwork for the upcoming release of The Wizard of Oz in the 4K UHD (Ultra-HD) format. The 2-disc set will be in stores on October 29th. The retail price is $41.99.
The artwork is abysmal! It looks as though some astoundingly inexperienced intern at WHV created it without any supervision. How did this ever get the green light? The idea of showing the transition from sepia to color is a good one but the execution is amateurish at best. Get it together, WHV!!!
Aside from the upgraded 4K version of the film, the contents on the discs are all ported over (“regurgitated” is more like it) from previous releases (see below). When will WHV upgrade the contents? Most of it has been copied over since the “Ultimate Oz” laserdisc release in 1993 – and it looks it! The video extras look like bad copies of old VHS tapes. The photo galleries are useless. Better quality and rarer images can be found in any decent Oz group on social media. All of those wonderful pre-recording session audio files desperately need upgrading as well. Recent advances in audio restoration make those 90s-era alternate audio tracks sound like going from CD to Edison cylinders! Also, two releases ago we were promised the Scarecrow’s extended dance outtake in HD. That didn’t happen.
That 1990 CBS-TV special (again, poor image quality) is just shy of 30 years old. It’s dated. A new special is needed. The film deserves it just as much as it deserves to have the extras upgraded.
The people who run the classics division at WHV are phoning it in. There seems to have been a malaise that’s set in over the past decade or so. The Wizard of Oz is one of the biggest jewels in their catalog and the cavalier treatment it gets from them is shocking and sad. It’s time to bring this set (the WHOLE set) into the 21st Century! To say that fans have buyer’s fatigue with these “new” sets every few years is putting it mildly. Take the time and money to do that, and watch the multitude of Oz fans make it a Day One purchase. Keep dishing out an inferior product like this and watch more and more fans stay away. It’s up to you, WHV.
The ONLY reason to purchase this is for the 4K UHD version of the film. However, you will need to replace your TV with a 4K one to get the benefits of this new release – via a 4K player of course (4K discs will not play in a Blu-ray player). If you purchased a 3D-TV and 3D player for the 75th-anniversary release five years ago you will have to move that aside and get a 4K player and TV or you won’t see the benefits of this new 4K release of a new 8K scan (see details below).
NOTE: There are already ads and articles for 8K TVs and players, so you might want to hold off. Personally, I’ll wait. You can bet WHV will slap together another “new” edition in 8K when that technology becomes the new standard. It’s too bad that as the standards of our home media options get better and better, the standards at WHV continue to get lower and lower.
There is a Best Buy steel case version that will also be available on October 29 (image above). It’s also two discs and is listed as “SteelBook, Includes Digital Copy, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray/Blu-ray, Only @ Best Buy.” It’s assumed the two discs have the same content as the wide release version (details below) however the Best Buy retail price is cheaper at $34.99.
If previous release years are any indication, it’s a sure bet that other versions (single disc, Walmart & Costco exclusives, etc.) will be released in the coming year. iTunes had the 4K version available for a couple of days but that’s been pulled for the time being. The two days might have been an “oopsie.”
DETAILS ABOUT THE RELEASE:
The 4K version has been newly created from a new 8K scan of the original Technicolor camera negative in HDR10 and Dolby Vision both of which are be included on the 4K disc.
Per the press release, “The process was supervised by MPI colorist Janet Wilson, who has overseen ever remaster of The Wizard of Oz for the past 20 years.”
The 4K disc includes these previously-released extras:
- 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.
- 1990 CBS Special The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: The Making of a Movie Classic.
The Blu-ray in the package includes more previously-released extras:
- 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
- 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
- Music & Effects Track
- Original Mono Track
- Sing-Along Tracks
- Audio Jukebox
- Leo is on the Air Radio Promo
- Good News of 1939 Radio Show
- 12/25/1950 Lux Radio Broadcast
- Stills Gallery: Oz on Broadway
- Stills Gallery: Pre-MGM
- Stills Gallery: Sketches and Storyboards
- Stills Gallery: Richard Thorpe’s Oz
- Stills Gallery: Buddy Ebsen
- Stills Gallery: Oz Comes to Life
- Stills Gallery: Behind the Scenes
- Stills Gallery: Portraits
- Stills Gallery: Special Effects
- Stills Gallery: Post Production
- Stills Gallery: Deleted Scenes
- Stills Gallery: Original Publicity
- Stills Gallery: 8/15/1939 Hollywood Premiere
- Stills Gallery: 8/17/1939 New York Premiere
- Stills Gallery: 2/29/1940 Academy Awards Ceremony
- Stills Gallery: Oz Abroad
- Stills Gallery: Oz Revivals
Fans in the UK can pre-order this boxed set (see above) which includes a CD of the soundtrack album (no doubt it’s the same Rhino Records version from the late 90s which is what Warner has been re-releasing over the past umpteen years). The street date for the set is October 28, 2019.