While we’ve all been clamoring for newly-remastered editions of the classic and Next Generation entries of the Star Trek film franchise in high definition, only one of those first ten films went through a major restoration back in 2009 for the movies’ Blu-ray release: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.
Even though the other nine films had some minor (and sometimes more than minor) color and clarity upgrades, Khan was the only one to be rescanned from the original film negative for that release. As director Nicholas Meyer told TrekMovie.com at the time, it was sorely needed since the available footage was in “terrible shape” and needed the extra attention.
Well, a few weeks ago, Meyer announced on his Facebook page that The Wrath of Khan was back under the microscope, being prepared for a 4K Ultra High Definition (UHD) release coming soon.
I have seen some sort of future and it’s pretty impressive. I was at the Technicolor Digital Lab today reviewing color for the forthcoming HDR version of ‘Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan,’ commemorating the series’ 50th anniversary next year.
In terms of richness and clarity what I saw surpasses anything I can recall, though everyone will have to buy a new tv that is HDR compatible. Wouldn’t you know. Space turns out to be REALLY BLACK. HDR, incidentally, stands for High Dynamic Range. This stuff is measured in something called NITS (don’t ask), and whereas current delivery systems account for one or two hundred plus NITS, HDR is over a thousand.
The wonder of it is, this all can be extracted from the original (cleaned up), film negative. It was always there, but delivery systems couldn’t project all that was there. Or words to that effect. Stay tuned.
It’s unclear if by “next year” Meyer means in 2016 – the fiftieth anniversary year – or sometime in 2017. This is certainly good news for fans of this preeminent entry in the Star Trek catalog, and Khan will join 2009’s Star Trek and 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness as the first classic Trek film to be released in this UHD format – though while the two modern Trek films are only announced for a Samsung digital collection so far, 4K disc availability is likely not that far behind, with media release tracker VideoETA projecting a June debut.
A comparison of picture dimensions, from the standard-definition 480p DVD release up to a 4K UHD presentation:
4K releases — described as such by the available picture size measuring up to 4096 by 2160 pixels — are already hitting store shelves as recent releases such as The Martian and X-Men: Days of Future Past are out now in distinctive black packaging.
As for The Wrath of Khan, we’re certainly pleased that the film is being prepped for an Ultra HD presentation, but fear that like last year’s special TWOK Blu-ray Steelbook release, it may be the only one we get to see in this new release format.
We were all disappointed in seeing yet another repackaged Star Trek film collection from Paramount last month, but leaving the other nine movies behind may sting even more.
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