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WHV Press Release: Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collectors Edition (Blu-ray)

Discussion in 'Blu-ray and UHD' started by Ronald Epstein, Jun 20, 2011.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Administrator
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    Award-Winning Epic Now Restored and Remastered in New Limited and Numbered Editions from Warner Home Video

    BEN-HUR 50th ANNIVERSARY
    ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION
    DEBUTS ON BLU-RAY™ & DVD SEPTEMBER 27

    Collectible Box Set Features New High-Def Documentary about Heston’s Filming Experiences with Never-Seen Family Footage and Reproduction of Star’s Diary During Movie Shoot


    [​IMG]



    Burbank, Calif., June 20, 2011 – Ben-Hur – William Wyler’s unforgettable epic spectacle, starring Charlton Heston, that won a record-setting 11 Academy Awards® [1] (1959) including Best Motion Picture, Best Actor and Best Director -- will make a dazzling debut on Blu-ray September 27 as

    Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (UCE) from Warner Home Video (WHV).



    An inspiration to generations of filmmakers with its legendary scale and scope, “50 years later filmmakers and film experts are still in awe of the film,” says Ben-Hur documentarian Gary Leva. People like Ridley Scott, Ernest Dickerson, and others told Leva how Wyler’s film inspired them to emulate the filmmaker years later. Even with today's technology, they still aren't sure how some of the scenes were able to be put on film. Scott, who directed Gladiator, said his arena was one-sixth the size of the one where Ben-Hur had his famous chariot race. The gigantic oval, with incredible statues and architecture, took more than a year to build.



    For this release, Ben-Hur has undergone a $1 million restoration -- frame by frame from an 8k scan of the original 65 mm camera negative, making this the highest resolution restoration ever completed by Warner Bros. studio.



    “We have been working on this extensive restoration for several years, hoping we could be ready with a 2009 release for the actual 50th. The meticulous process took longer than expected, but our primary goal was to deliver the finest quality presentation possible, and we have succeeded in doing just that,” said Jeff Baker, WHV’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, Theatrical Catalog.



    Ben-Hur has been on moratorium for the past year. Now limited and numbered, each set contains more than four hours of extras including an all-new hi-def feature length documentary hosted by son Fraser Heston; a reproduction of Heston's diary during filming; and an exclusive hardbound photo book.



    “The restoration is almost trumped by some newly-uncovered Heston family home movies, shot in Italy during production, that reveal unique behind-the-scenes activity. Believed to be the only footage of its kind in existence, this marks something truly historic and unprecedented. And we are thrilled to be able to incorporate it into the documentary made by Laurent Bouzereau and Charlton Heston’s son, Fraser. The documentary will be obtainable only with this release.”



    Baker believes fans also will be enthralled with Heston’s diary, which “reflects his thoughts and feelings on many of the days before, during, and immediately after the film’s physical production.

    “The diary is a replica of the original,” Baker said. “We did not transpose Chuck’s words onto a clean white piece of paper. The natural fading of the pages, and any mistakes, are all seen as they are in the original diary. The concept is to preserve the authenticity. It’s a remarkable, collectible keepsake. No other disc release in history has included a personal diary of an actor, let alone an Oscar®-winning legend, sharing this type of personal information.”



    Baker said that while under his watch Warner has produced several other Ultimate Collector’s Editions of classic movies. “This physical package in terms of aesthetics, historical content, and originality is the new gold standard for not only Warner, but for all studios. No one can forget seeing Ben-Hur in a theater for the first time. And now, a half-century later, it looks the best it ever has on Blu-ray in this pristine high-definition film restoration, perfect for holiday gift giving.”



    The Ben-Hur 50th Anniversary UCE will be available for $64.99 SRP (Three-Disc Blu-ray), $49.92 SRP (Five-Disc DVD set) and $20.97 SRP (2-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition DVD). Order due date for all is August 23, 2011.



    After attending an early screening, Fraser Heston noted in a letter to Baker, “This is unquestionably the most remarkable restoration I have ever seen. It was an extraordinary, life changing experience, like sitting next to Wyler in his answer print screening, only better.

    The picture was clear and sharp, not crisp or brittle like some HD versions. It looks like film not pixels. The colors were rich and vibrant but not overly so, muted where they should be muted, and bright where they should be bright. Blacks were astonishingly, well … black! And the sound track was a rich experience in itself - lovely clear dialogue, rich mellow score and clean effects. I look forward to showing it to my family and friends as soon as I can.”



    Details of the new bonus content for this release are:

    • Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey
      An all-new high-definition feature-length documentary chronicling Charlton Heston’s life while filming Ben-Hur. Includes behind-the-scenes details and home movie footage shot by his wife Lydia while in Rome. The film shows a rarely seen, different side of Heston – as a warm, loving father and husband balancing his home and work life, and as an artist devoted to his craft.
    • Charlton Heston: The Ben-Hur Diaries
      First-time exclusive look into an Oscar-winning actor’s experience while making an award-winning film. A reproduction of Charlton Heston’s private and insightful diary from January 1958 through April 1960, documents his time before production of the film all the way through his Oscar win. Includes personal photos from the Heston family and Charlton Heston’s own sketches.
    • Exclusive hardbound book with rare photography, production art and reproductions from the original theatrical press book.


    Ben-Hur will be available digitally On Demand and for download through online retailers including iTunes and Amazon On Demand



    For more information, log onto www.BenHurMovie.com.



    More About Ben-Hur



    With 100,000 costumes, 15,000 extras, 300 sets and a $15 million budget that, at the time, was the most expensive in MGM’s history, Ben-Hur is widely considered to be one of the most accomplished Biblical-era epics ever made. Based on Lew Wallace’s best-selling novel and adapted by Karl Tunber, Ben-Hur stars Charlton Heston, Jack Hawkins, Haya Harareet, Stephen Boyd, Hugh Griffith, Martha Scott, Cathy O’Donnell and Sam Jaffe. The film ranks #13 in all-time box office when adjusted for inflation (source: Box Office Mojo).



    Heston brings a solid physical and moral presence to the title role of Judah Ben-Hur, and his charismatic performance earned him one of the film’s 11 Academy Awards® (a feat equaled only by Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King). In addition to the Best Actor award, Ben-Hur also captured Oscars for Best Motion Picture, Best Director, and Best Supporting Actor (Griffith).



    The movie was filmed in a process known as MGM Camera 65, one of the widest prints ever made, with a width almost three times its height. This allowed for spectacular panoramic shots and bold action sequences. Even by today’s standards, Ben-Hur’s now legendary chariot race still astonishes. The lack of computer-generated effects, the visually stunning MGM Camera 65 process, and excellent cinematography all make the scene one of the most memorable in modern cinema.





    Synopsis



    Experience the visual splendor, thundering action and towering drama of this record-setting Academy Award-winning film. Charlton Heston, in his Best Actor Oscar-winning role, is Judah Ben-Hur, a Jewish nobleman in Palestine whose heroic odyssey includes enslavement by the Romans, vengeance against his tormentors during a furious arena chariot race and fateful encounters with Jesus Christ. Best Director Oscar-winner William Wyler masterfully grips the reins of an enduring and spellbinding spectacular.





    Blu-ray Special Features Include*

    Disc One & Two: The Movie

    • Newly Remastered and Restored from Original 65mm Film Elements
    • Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio
    • Commentary by Film Historian T. Gene Hatcher with Scene Specific Comments from Charlton Heston
    • Music-Only Track Showcasing Miklos Rozsa’s Score


    Disc Three: Special Features

    • Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey (78 min) [HD] NEW!
    • Ben-Hur: 1925 Silent Version, from the Thames Television Restoration with Stereophonic Orchestral Score by Composer Carl Davis (143 min)
    • 2005 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema - Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott reflect on the importance and influence of the film on modern epics (58 min)
    • 1994 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic Hosted by Christopher Plummer (58 min)
    • Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures - Audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue
    • Screen Tests (30 min)
    • Vintage Newsreels Gallery
    • Highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards ® Ceremony
    • Theatrical Trailer Gallery


    The DVD UCE will have the feature film restored and remastered for standard definition plus the same Special Features spread over five discs.



    The 2-Disc 50th Anniversary Edition DVD will have the feature film restored and remastered for standard definition with commentary plus a special edition poster mail-in offer and a commemorative o-sleeve.



    BEN HUR 50TH ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION

    Street Date: September 27, 2011

    Order Date: August 23, 2011

    Run Time: 222 minutes (Feature Only)

    Rated G



    Blu-ray

    Cat # / UPC: 1000124668/ 883929119202

    SRP: $64.99



    DVD

    Cat # / UPC: 1000124669/ 883929119219

    SRP: $49.92



    Two-Disc Special Edition DVD

    Cat # / UPC: 1000186097/ 883929178261

    SRP: $20.97





    *All enhanced content listed above is subject to change.
     
  2. Joe Caps

    Joe Caps Well-Known Member

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    Gee, among all of the bells and whistles, I hope Warners gives us something that wasw ALWAYS correct on previous vids and laserdisc editions, the music for the appearance of the Star of Bethlehem.


    On all dvds, the chorus appears (is faded in !) three and a half beats late.


    On the first dvds, you could only hear this correctly on the French Language track,

    The last swpecial editiion no longer had the french language track, so one could only hear the ineffective english language track only

    I hope they finally correct this for this new set.
     
  3. Douglas R

    Douglas R Well-Known Member

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    Link doesn'i work!!
     
  4. SD_Brian

    SD_Brian Well-Known Member

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    Let me be the first to chime in and say, "I wish they were releasing a movie-only Blu Ray version too!" I'm sure one will show up eventually.


    I also wish the 1925 version had been upgraded to HD as that would have spurred me to spring for the box set. I'll wait for a movie-only.


    *edited to correct that date
     
  5. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    For those interested, Amazon UK is selling the non-boxset of Ben-Hur for $16.09 American dollars. Unfortunately, the shipping cost is another $4.98 for a grand total of $21.07 in American dollars. It is region-free.










    Crawdaddy
     
  6. Scott Merryfield

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    Thanks for the information, Robert. I wish this was an option for Citizen Kane, too.
     
  7. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Well-Known Member

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    This looks like a good package, but not upgrading the silent is a major oversight considering Paramount did it for the '23 Ten Commandments, which is nowhere near the prominence of the '25 Ben-Hur.


    I'm also surprised the 1907 version hasn't been included on any edition except as a clip in the making-of documentary.
     
  8. David_B_K

    David_B_K Advanced Member

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    If the UK Blu-ray includes all the discs, then that's the way I'm gonna go. I felt compelled to get the big box of The Ten Commandments because the alternative was a barebones version of the movie. I hope this will be more like the UK version of GWTW.
     
  9. Guest

    So the sound is only Dolby Digital? No lossless?
     
  10. Vincent_P

    Vincent_P Well-Known Member

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    I'm pretty sure that's just a typo, or Warner used the wrong template. I sincerely doubt when this arrives the sound will be lossy.


    Vincent
     
  11. Brianruns10

    Brianruns10 Well-Known Member

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    Darn it Warners, is the '25 version in HD or not?
     
  12. GMpasqua

    GMpasqua Well-Known Member

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  13. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Well-Known Member

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    There was a mis-price on Amazon, it's now £16 ($26), still a good price when you think what you're getting. I'm just happy that Warner is releasing this in England, they don't release many of their catalogue Blu-rays over here.
     
  14. Garysb

    Garysb Well-Known Member

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    Amazon UK has updated the content of their blu ray only edition of the film and it seems to be the same as the US version without the big box. It seems the silent version is not HD. It is not listed as HD while Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey is in HD Content Disc One & Two: The Movie • Newly remastered and restored from original 65mm film elements • Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio • Commentary by film historian T. Gene Hatcher with scene specific comments from Charlton Heston • Music-only track showcasing Miklos Rozsa's score Disc Three: Special Features • Charlton Heston: A Personal Journey (78 min) [HD] • Ben-Hur: 1925 silent version, from the Thames Television restoration with stereophonic orchestral score by composer Carl Davis (143 min) • 2005 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Epic That Changed Cinema--Current filmmakers such as Ridley Scott reflect on the importance and influence of the film on modern epics (58 min) • 1994 Documentary: Ben-Hur: The Making of an Epic, hosted by Christopher Plummer (58 min) • Ben-Hur: A Journey Through Pictures--Audiovisual recreation of the film via stills, storyboards, sketches, music and dialogue • Screen tests (30 min) • Vintage newsreels gallery • Highlights from the 1960 Academy Awards ® ceremony • Theatrical trailer gallery
     
  15. Brian Sharp

    Brian Sharp Well-Known Member

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    Luckily, I pre ordered my copy when it was under £12.00.
     
  16. Billy Batson

    Billy Batson Well-Known Member

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    Yep, I should have done. Oh well, it's going on my Christmas pressy list so I won't have to pay the extra few pounds. It's good we're getting the isolated music track this time, Warner left that out on the European DVD release, maybe it was to do with the 4% PAL speed up.
     
  17. ReggieW

    ReggieW Well-Known Member

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    As we get closer to the general release date, the UK edition will likely drop in price.
     
  18. Brent S

    Brent S Well-Known Member

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    Are there any additional newsreels, other than those on the deluxe DVD from a few years ago? One not included then was 12/1/59's NEWS OF THE DAY which featured Charlton Heston as the Grand Marshall of the Hollywood Christmas Parade, promoting the release of BEN-HUR. Also in the parade footage were The Three Stooges. A BluRay copy of that would be nice.
     
  19. Scott Merryfield

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    Same here.
     
  20. Rick Thompson

    Rick Thompson Well-Known Member

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    Actually, it didn't drop in price. Instead, it vanished. The non-crap edition is no longer (on August 10) listed on Amazon UK.
     

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