Monday, October 25, 2010

Tron Blu-s...

Someone doesn't have a Clu...

Earlier this year, Steven Lisberger, the Father of Tron, mentioned that a new high definition remaster of Tron was currently in the works to be released by the end of the year to coincide with Disney's theatrical release of Tron Legacy. Since then there has oddly been no official announcement and with just over 8 weeks to go no pre-release date in sight it's beginning to look like Tron will be MIA on blu-ray this year.

Word has it that earlier this summer the original Tron was screened at one of the theme parks and was laughed at by people who had not seen the original film and mocked it for its now-outdated effects and silly attire of leotards and hockey helmets parodied by the infamous "Tron Guy." Rumor has it that some Disney execs witnessed their reactions and it made them very, very nervous.

Understandable since they've spent millions marketing their "new and improved" Tron Legacy which they hope will be embraced by a new generation of fans. Since then plans to release the original Tron on blu-ray to generate interest in the sequel seem to have been scrapped out of fear that this product of a by-gone era would backfire and turn off their vital demographic from flocking to theaters to see Tron Legacy in December.

Word has it the original Tron will not be released now until sometime next year around the time Legacy is released on DVD and Blu-ray, long after all the box office grosses for Legacy are in. Normally, studios will strategically time the release of catalog DVD and Blu-ray sales to generate hype for a franchise installment and reciprocally to give home video sales a push but this seems to mark the beginning of what could become a counter-trend for studios looking to capture a new fanbase without any expectations or preconceptions.

Could the same fear and paranoia apply to Disney's marketing plans for their eminent remake of The Black Hole? As a fan of both of these classic Disney films I am disappointed that I will not be able to enjoy seeing Tron remastered in glorious high definition before going to see Legacy but I am deeply concerned by how this could impact reception of it my millions of people who have not even seen the original film and how they could potentially regard Legacy as the defacto Tron film and shrug off the original 28 year-old film as a relic of the Atari age.

Tron was cutting-edge for its day and decades ahead of its time but like all films in retrospect is a product of the period in which it was made and should be appreciated as such for what it is and its rightful place in cinematic history. Is Disney deliberately trying to sweep memories of it under the rug to be forgotten so that Legacy will be received as the definitive start of a new franchise? The very thought of it gives me pause and sends a shudder of discomfort up my spine. It almost seems like they are trying to re-write the program.

End of Line.


perfectly flawed said...

When Tr2n was announced during it's first Comic Con debut in Hall H of the SDCC, I quickly went off the library and borrowed it the weekend after. During the eighteen years of life that I had at the time of the announcement, I remember hearing it's critical acclaim and was aware of it's cult following. But I always wondered why such a "great" film was really kept under wraps by Disney, I don't remember it be ran on television - and other than the 20th anniversary DVD and the video game that they released in the early 2000s, it just seemed like this film was swept under the carpet. For good reason?

So after 18 years of life, I finally watched this film - and I gotta say, it was really dull and bland. And I know I'm not the only one who thought that, several of my friends recently watched it and were pretty unimpressed. Well for one thing, I grew up during the 90s and 2000s, so the special effects that I come to know of really dwarfed the original Tron. As for the story, I didn't really understand it at all, it seemed like you had to be a nerd to understand what was happening. Overall for me, I felt the movie was all over the place. I could understand it's historical background, being a leader in its special effects during the 80s, but overall the film just looked lame.

So I could see why that the company felt that the original Tron should not be seen or heard, as it could have the potentially to turn-off young people. I know, it's sad about forgetting history, but that's how the game is played.

Regarding Tron Legacy, that film looks pretty mainstream in appeal. People are going to get turned on because of Daft Punk, Olivia Wild, Jeff Bridges, and the amazing special effects. Now, I'm not sure if that's enough to compel people to watch this film, but I sure hope so! This could either be the next "Avatar" or the next "Watchmen", we'll know by Christmas... The film looks pretty radical though, I'll be there Midnight - December 17th!

Lou Prosperi said...

Hi Honor,
My kids are looking forward to seeing Tron Legacy so I rented the original Tron from the local library so they would have some of the background for when we see the new film.

After watching it together over the weekend, I can understand the concerns of the Disney executives. Both of my kids were confused and bored through most of the movie (though they didn't laugh at the costumes... my wife and I took care of that). While I'm usually in favor of minimal exposition, the original Tron would have likely benefited from at *some* explanation of what the hell was going on.

Take Care,

Lou Prosperi

Anonymous said...

A thought, not a personal preference for or against.

Is there any consensus of doing a remaster of the original TRON the way Lucas did the Updates to the original Star Wars Trilogy back in the 90's. New special effects, edits/transitions, music/sound effects, etc.

I understand the high cost of it, and Tron Legacy will first have to prove to make plenty at the box office before something like this could be truly considered. But is this a something that has crossed anyones mind. And then possibly a BluRay could be made available featuring the remastered/edited version and the original theatrical cut in one package.

TRON UNIT said...

Steven Lisberger said that Tron's visual effects will NOT be redone ala Star Wars. He said they have done extensive color timing and digital matte removal to eliminate some of the noticeable compositing anomalies that revealed the technical limitations of the time but aside from that Tron will be preserved the way it was theatrically shown and I wholeheartedly agree. It would not be Tron 1.0 if they were to redo the visual FX. That's why Tron Legacy was done to show how the system had been upgraded and evolved. Technically, Legacy is Tron 2.1 so Disney at least hasn't completely re-written the original program but they are de-emphasizing it by sweeping it under the rug at least until Legacy has had its time in the spotlight so they haven't pulled a George Lucas and altered it and tossed it away completely so I am at least thankful for that.

Farenheit 451 said...

People, films age. Try watching 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea again and you'll laugh at Kirk Douglas singing and the dated miniature FX but for those who saw it as a kid you were awestruck by it. Tron is no different than any other film in that regard. I know younger people who think the special effects in the original Star Wars look cheesy compared to the Prequels which I think look like cartoonish video game rubbish. I don't understand why people can't seem to acknowledge that almost 30 years have passed and technology has evolved and revolutionized the way that films are made now. Of course the original Tron isn't going to look sleek and modern like Legacy is. I just don't understand the studios wanting to "sanitize" the classics by rebooting and remaking every film, riding on the recognition of the predecessors and then discarding them in favor of their "superior" remake. Tron was a flawed film when it came out. There was room for improvement. I have no doubt Legacy will improve upon it in many ways, doesn't mean we should laugh off the original. That's like saying Howard Hawks' The Thing From Another World is a clunky old 50's sci-fi horror film compared to John Carpenter's remake. Yes, I prefer Carpenter's version but I acknowledge that we wouldn't have it if it weren't for the original classic which was an allegory of 50's Cold War paranoia. Disney is notorious for "sanitizing" their own library of classics. Song of the South will probably never see the light of day again because they can't add a simple statement of acknowledgment that the film's racial themes were a product of the period in which is was made and should be considered as such for historical preservation. Just put it out there and let people make up their own minds, don't tell them how to think. For those that can look past the limitations of the period and enjoy it for what it is should not be denied the chance to see it.

Tron Sux said...

Tron Sucks.

You Suck said...

You suck.

perfectly flawed said...

@Farenheit 451:"Just put it out there and let people make up their own minds, don't tell them how to think. For those that can look past the limitations of the period and enjoy it for what it is should not be denied the chance to see it."

..that's why people can rent the original Tron at the local library, or buy one off (The same thing can be said for "Song of the South" if you actually look hard enough). Last time I remember, Disney didn't sanitize those areas of distribution. Hey, I like cinematic history and adore many classic films(and I hate the cartoonish downfall of the Star Wars empire), but there was an obvious reason why they didn't let the Tron cat out of its bag.

Disney didn't just make Tron Legacy for the "Fans", looking at it's price tag and the supporting its getting, this one was meant for mainstream appeal. There's a reason why we see Tim Allen in "The Santa Clause" and Bette Middler as a witch in "Hocus Pocus" each year on television, both movies have wide and mainstream appeal. The fact is the original Tron had little to no mainstream appeal (an average 8 year old is not going to sit down and watch this film in it's entirety), hence the company is not going to risk loosing their audience with a film that might have the potential to bore their potential audience. So I can totally respect the way they are thinking with sweeping it under the rug, atleast for now.

History is history, although the mullet was a cultural foundation of the 1980s, it doesn't mean people are going to feel compelled and wear that hairdo again. Well, I hope not.

Tron Sux said...

Tron is soooo dated and corny, I can't believe Disney was so desperate for ideas that they had to go back to the well and bring up a failure from it's past for their new films. Shows how bankrupt they are with Ei$ner and I-Ger running them. This thing looks like a giant stinker. This will be Disney's Speed Racer.

Anonymous said...

Hey Honor, what's the point of having moderated comments if you keep letting immature posters like Tron Sux trolling around in here?

Zippity Doo Doo said...

..that's why people can rent the original Tron at the local library, or buy one off (The same thing can be said for "Song of the South" if you actually look hard enough).

@perfectly flawed

Your statement is flawed. People shouldn't have to obtain illegal bootleg copies of Song of the South from unscrupulous ebay sellers, bittorrent, or other shady areas of distribution because they can't get them through officially licensed legal channels from Disney's own distribution. As for Tron, sure you can still find the DVD or rent it but I can certainly understand it if somebody wants to watch it remastered in 1080p HD quality with lossless DTS-HD audio opposed to 720p SD mpeg-2 compression with lossy 5.1 Dolby. There are people who would buy it. You are right about one thing, it is a cult film and doesn't have mass appeal which is why I am shocked they decided to go mainstream with the sequel. I'm sure it will make more money than the first one just because of all the hype but it's still just another nerdy sci-fi film for geeks so you are already alienating the female audience right there hehe.

Juan Twoone said...

This post was by Tron Unit, not Honor people. Read the line at the bottom to see who the post is by.

jedited said...

Just my two cents.
I have an 8 year old boy and the original Tron is his favorite movie.
When I saw Tron in '82, I was 11 years old. I didn't get most of it, but I still thought it was cool. ALL my friends did too. We liked the light-cycles and the disc battles. We didn't get the whole users and the puesdo regilgious tones, but that didn't ruin our enjoyment of the movie.
Part of the problem is few people go back and watch older movies. My kids and I have watched ALL the older Star Wars, ET, the Marx Brothers, old, silent Buster Keaton movies, etc. Plus my kids LOVE the old black and white, silent Oswald the Lucky Rabbit cartoons. We need to expose our kids to the past and explain why it's important.
Having said all that, I think it MIGHT be a good decision for Disney to hold off on re-releasing the original. I think it might also help sales. If people see the remake and REALLY enjoy it, they might enjoy and appreciate the original more.
And finally for the one person who said that Tron Legacy is just a fan-boy movie and won't do well, see the remake of Star Trek, $385 mill worldwide!

Harvey Dent said...

The Dark Knight is a fanboy movie and it made over $1 billion worldwide.

Bruce Wayne said...

I believe in Harvey Dent.

nojarama said...

I, myself am very excited about the new film (and a possible remake of The Black Hole). Both films were way ahead of their time & deserve to be revered for their amazing technical style. If you get a chance get the Tron 20th anniversary DVD (you can buy it used on Amazon or E-bay) just for the documentary that shows how the film was made (the same can be said for the Black Hole film (the documentary about it is quite spectacular).

Anonymous said...

I saw Tron at its first release, and was extremely unimpressed. Even the visuals didn't thrill me. The movie also had massive story problems, and that's why I'm skeptical about this redo. If it's referring to the original film in any way, then it's already in trouble IMO. For those of you looking forward to Tron Legacy, have fun. But I'll take a pass on it.

I agree with one of the above posters about Eisner and Iger, though. Eisner lost his marbles and Iger's not much better, buying junk and acting like Zombie Masters by trying to re-animate the dead. How about something fresh, Disney?

Anonymous said...

If I'm not mistaken, they showed a re-mastered (HD) version of TRON on HDNET earlier this year. Both video and audio were too good to be an "old" transfer. FWIW, my younger son liked the original and I'm looking forward to the new one--in 3D IMAX!

Anonymous said...

I believe the HD transfer shown on HDnet is a 1080i master that was made a few years ago and has not undergone the restoration that was recently done for the bluray.

Cory Gross said...

...they could potentially regard Legacy as the defacto Tron film and shrug off the original 28 year-old film as a relic of the Atari age.

Which it is.

When I watched Tron again as an adult, I was suprised by how much I did like it. But I don't think it takes much to recognize that the revival of the film was carried by nostalgia for the fact that it is a holdover of the Atari age. It's retro, it's 80's chic. It's not supergood, but it is old enough that it has cachet with my generation. If you watch Daft Punk's videos, it should be no wonder that they're into Tron; they love everything old and tacky and cheesy.

Disney is stuck insofar as they're trying to make the sequel appeal to both the mainstream and the nostalgia market, because the mainstream didn't really like Tron the first time around. It makes me wonder why Disney bothered trying to make this an illegitimate, 20-years-late sequel rather than just a straight reboot (I wondered the same about the new Star Trek).

Now contrary to what was said by someone above, 20,000 Leagues actually holds up quite well. Yes some bits are dated (cute animals, the singing), but the effects are still pretty darn good. Probably because it used miniatures.

2.0 and Beyond said...

It's a typical Disney management response to criticism. Just as with other movies that they had second thoughts on (Atlantis), instead of carrying on and maintaining a positive marketing strategy, they panic and start making mistakes that inevitably influences the product.

With Atlantis, they announced they would write the film off even before it was released. A potential successful attraction being studied for Disneyland was shelved.

It's uncertain if they just over-believed in the potential of the Tron "franchise" ( I didn't really think it was developed to the point is should have been) or if someone convinced them in spite of reservations.

Anonymous said...

"Tron Sucks."

"You suck."

Why even bother to approve those comments?!

Anonymous said...

For me, the original Tron may not have had the most enthralling story, but the film looked very cool and it was a very cool concept. I'm looking forward to Tron: Legacy.

klokswimmer said...

I just have to share that when I saw the original Tron on video as a child I thought that it was the coolest looking movie I had ever seen, even though I had absolutely no concept of what the story actually was about.

I watched Tron many times in my youth and never really "got it". While on vacation this past summer (my curiosity peaked by the eminent release of Tron: Legacy) I watched Tron again for the first time in many years. Now, I love modern visual effects in both a "mindless" and an "enhances the story" kind of way, but Tron is so much more than what are now considered outdated visual effects. For 1982 this movie was ahead of it's time in so many ways. In 1992 the visuals would have been laughable, but the story would still have been above the heads of most people. If I had rewatched this even in 2002 I probably still would not have not fully understood what the film was actually about.

But in 2010, I must say that Tron is truly a brilliant picture. Tron: Legacy will outdo the original in visual effects only and will disappoint on every other level.

While I await Tron: Legacy with pessimistic optimism I really want the original on Blu-Ray to share with my child.

Darrell said...

Yeah, I'm wondering why he even approved of those comments. But then again...

Let me remind you that a year ago, when Honor turned on comment moderation and stopped the troll attacks, he said that "comments that are not *on topic* will not be posted." Well, if someone was to say that Tron sucks (IT DOES NOT!), that *would* be on-topic.

I am looking forward to Tron Legacy for certain.

Anonymous said...

So basically Disney has decided that the availability of classic movies (and their status in film history) should be determined what tweens think? Cinema is doomed!

Lilu said...

Typical Disney. I wonder if the paranoid execs realize that what made Disney so great wasn't this terrified way of letting the public lead them around by their short and fuzzies, but by leading the public and showing them their best, both past and present.

Thanks for ruining the movie for us Disney guys. We won't be going to see it (Tron Legacy) in theatres because you're too stupid to lure people with special editions being released just before the new one comes out. Go make another POS like Tangled and suck the ever-withering teat of Mandy Moore's perky voice a bit more. That'll rake ya in the dollars, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

The marketing scheme Disney missed out on.

Buy the numbered, limited edition, digitally remastered Blu-Ray and DVD of TRON and you have automatically reserved a matching number limited edition Blu-Ray and DVD of TRON: Legacy.

The TRON discs should also come with a Blu-DVD flippy disc packed with special features, including stuff like a Super Foonly VAX emulator program and some code for DIY rendering of a scene from the original movie.

For the less than nerdy, the Super Foonly was a one of a kind computer, built to be the fastest VAX computer ever. There were no customers wanting to buy such a super computer. (Your modern cellphone is likely more powerful.) But what it proved capable of was rendering 3D graphics. Three other companies weighed in with their best computers to work on the rendering for TRON.

The equivalent today would be Pixar, Weta Workshop, Dreamworks and Amblimation all working together on one film to use the absolute top level technology available.

The original TRON was supposed to be a huge blockbuster film with big promotion, but Disney decided to kick the legs out from under it at the last minute, deliberately crippling the release. With decent promotion the original TRON would have made much more money at the box office.

Anonymous said...

The original Tron suffered from a very poor plot. This was largely due to everyone's lack of understanding of computer technologies. Ergo Flynn's "it's out there in one of those memories!" comment. One thing that Tron did well was demonstrate a GUI before it existed.

The Legacy installment wasn't great on plot, but it did have amazing eye candy, especially in IMAX 3D. I agree with the post early on: redo the VFX and let people see a "revamped" version and the "original" version. They did this rather successfully with Star Trek: The Motion Picture making it at least watchable. The updated SFX/VFX weren't huge in that release, but they were noticable. I digress.

Disney could make a killing by redoing the original movie, not even releasing it into theaters, and make a vast sum of money redoing "The Grid."