Electric Shadow

WIZARD OF OZ 75th Anniversary Blu-grade on 1 October

Warner Bros. has just announced not only a big IMAX-sized 3D post-conversion of The Wizard of Oz, but a press release in my inbox provides details for a spread of new 75th Anniversary Blu-rays. The best news: the new transfer of the movie and newly-added extras are available on lower-cost, single-disc editions the same day that the enormous chocolate box-sized set arrives.

The new documentary is described thus:

The Making of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz This candid overview of how a troubled production overcame the odds to become an integral part of American culture features contributions from historians John Fricke and Sam Wasson, composers Stephen Schwartz and Marc Shaiman, critics Leonard Maltin and Michael Sragow, Bert Lahr’s son John as well as revealing interview clips with Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Buddy Ebsen, Margaret Hamilton and Mervyn LeRoy, among others.

The release notes that the doc and all previously-available extras will be included on all 75th Anniversary editions of the movie:

The Wizard of Oz 75th Anniversary Collector’s Edition will debut as a five-disc set that will include Blu-ray, Blu-ray 3D, DVD and UltraViolet versions of the film; a new documentary, The Making of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz; bonus features and premium collectibles ($105.43 SRP). Three more editions will be available separately: a two-disc 3D/Blu-ray ($35.99 SRP), a one-disc Blu-ray ($19.98 SRP) and a two-disc DVD ($16.95 SRP). All four will contain the new documentary and extra content.

As always, SRPs are higher than these end up selling for.

The only lingering question I have is how that'll all fit on one disc.

The original 2009 Blu-ray takes up about 41 GB of space on the 50 GB platter, and there was a second Blu-ray disc of extras. That second disc of stuff is mostly alternate filmed adaptations of Oz, alongside Victor Fleming and L Frank Baum mini-docs. The way the above is worded, my guess is the five-disc mega-set is where you get everything, so the discs you get break down to one 3D Blu, two 2D Blu, two DVD discs. That mega-set has the now-expected pile of tchotchkes:

NEW! Exclusive Collectible Memorabilia —A collectible 75th Anniversary journal; Sparkle RUBY SLIPPERS™ Globe; Noble Collection 3-piece enamel pin set, a Map of Oz and a 48-page hardcover book. Collection is limited and numbered.

I have a line out to WB for clarification both as to whether the 2D version is the same transfer as 2009, and how the content shakes out across discs. They sound quite confident of how great the conversion looks:

The 3D conversion was a long and complex project which Warner Bros. initiated with a very high resolution (8k) scanning of the original Technicolor camera negative. The restored 2D image was then transformed by creating a depth-map of each frame to construct 3D imagery and determine distances from the viewer’s vantage point. This was followed by the long process (with the use of a rotoscope) to further refine viewer distances and fully layer shapes and objects.

“People have asked for years about The Wizard of Oz 3D conversion. My answer was always, ‘We’re not doing it until it’s perfect.’ And now it is,” said Ned Price, Warner Technical Operations’ Vice President of Mastering. “As a kid, I was so enthralled by this film. Watching it, you just want to enter the frame, enter the Land of Oz. This new version will allow you to do just that.”

They did an 8K scan for the 2009 Blu-ray, so I'm not convinced they just did another one. Again, note for clarification is in, and they should get back soon. Check back or watch for an update. UPDATE 2:02pm CT: WB has confirmed to me directly that the 2D Blu-ray features the exact same transfer as the 2009 disc. This is not a bad thing, since that has long been one of the best reference discs on the market.