The classic “The Wizard of Oz,” will be coming to theaters once again—but this time in 3D.
Warner Bros. is celebrating the movie’s 75th anniversary by rereleasing it in 3D for one week, starting Sept. 20, and only in IMAX theaters.
“My hope is that they [audiences] say, ‘This is the way I imagined it to be seen,’” said Greg Foster, president of filmed entertainment for IMAX. “This isn’t about making a quick buck. These are very important brands.”
The original movie was released in 1939. Five years ago, Warner Bros. began talking about doing something big for the 75th anniversary. Several tests were done to see if the film negatives could be used in the 3D transformation process before the project received the go-ahead.
“We’re not taking anything away from the classic,” said Jeff Baker of Warner Bros. Home Videos. “We insisted that we wouldn’t mess with the family, wholesome feeling of the film.”
The original camera negatives were in excellent condition, said Ned Price, vice president of Warner Bros. technical operations-video mastery, which made it possible to transform the images to 3D, Price said. The reshaping of the movie started in October.
“We still can’t get all of the details that are in negatives,” Price said. “We’re always going to improve as technology improves and we’re starting to catch up with what’s in the camera originals.”
The 3D version of the film is a necessity for it to stay relevant for future generations, said William Stillman, coauthor of the upcoming "The Wizard of Oz: The Official 75th Anniversary Companion." If MGM had the technology in 1938, 3D would have been considered as an option for the movie, he said.
But film historian Scott Essman said that the 3D version of the classic "Wizard" is unnecessary. He said that making the film into 3D is akin to colorizing black-and-white films.
“The way it was originally made is the way it was meant to be seen,” Essman said. “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should."
"The Wizard of Oz" is an intimate experience, he said, and making it into 3D might inhibit that intimacy.
The company was aware that some fans of "The Wizard of Oz" might not want the 3D version. Warner Bros. will also release the 2D version of the film on DVD and Blu-ray, along with a special five-disc set and another two-disc set that includes a 3D copy.
“The consumer has a choice and we respect that choice,” Baker said. “I would not be surprised if in the future there will be additional screenings in 2D.”
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