Wizard of Oz Restored for Blu-ray

“The Wizard of Oz,” is being readied for a Blu-ray re-release by Warner Brothers Home Video as part of the 70th anniversary celebration of that classic 1939 Technicolor film.

Last month, a special sneak peek of the digitally restored production was held on the Warner Brothers lot and a “star-studded” gala is set for Sept. 24th at New York City’s Tavern on the Green.

The restoration involved digital scans at an 8K resolution from the original three strip camera negatives. A frame-by-frame dirt, dust and scratch removal process followed the scan and then a computerized “pixel-perfect” realignment of the three color records was done to create a 4k master. Color correction, based on the colors from an original answer print kept at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, was then performed.

Film prints and a lowered-resolution Blu-ray release were pulled from the 4K digital master. Ned Price, Warner’s technical operations vice president of mastering, commented that everything possible was done to preserve the integrity of the original release, including the vibrant colors achieved by the Technicolor process and even the film grain. Price said that the only thing removed were support wires that had become visible in three of the restored scenes.

The Blu-ray release contains a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 version of a Dolby Digital 5.1 remix done in 2005, and the original 1939 mono is also on the disc. A large amount of supplementary material will also be included in the Blu-ray edition of the film.

A special Sept. 23 one-night screening at 450 theatres across the country is also planned in commemoration of the film’s anniversary, along with a special presentation on Turner Classis Movies at 7 p.m. local time on that date.