April will mark Universal Studio's 100th anniversary, and they're gearing up for a big celebration. They've certainly got some junk hitting screens this year (I'll be seeing Contraband tonight), but they also have intriguing, ambitious movies like Tom Hooper's Les Miserables, Oliver Stone's Savages, Judd Apatow's This Is Forty and even Carl Rinsch's 47 Ronin. But more than that, they're going to be restoring classic titles, releasing great movies on Blu-ray, and maintaining a Tumblr highlighting cool material from their archives. And I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Universal will be restoring 13 films over the course of the year, and they are All Quiet on the Western Front, The Birds, Buck Privates, Dracula (1931), Dracula Spanish (1931)*, Frankenstein, Jaws, Schindler’s List, Out of Africa, Pillow Talk, Bride of Frankenstein, The Sting and To Kill a Mockingbird. I'd be psyched to see any of these films in gorgeous 4k transfers, especially the Universal monster films, whose quality remains dodgy at best in prints.
The studio will also put out a 100th anniversary home video collection, featuring titles like ET and Jaws, culminating in the Blu-ray releases of the Universal Monsters films and the Hitchcock films. That's incredibly exciting.
Maybe my favorite part of the endeavour is Universal's new Tumblr site, where they'll be highlighting stuff from the archives. I am excited to see what sorts of historic ephemera they dig up; I'm sure a lot of it will be obvious but with so many days ahead of us, I also bet there will be real, rare gems showing up.
It's nice to see a studio embracing its legacy, instead of essentially distancing itself from it. And a celebration like this will certainly be a boon to nerds like us, who want wonderful home video editions of some of the greatest movies ever made. That Universal Monsters Blu collection is already beckoning to me; I think I'll have to begin a savings fund ASAP.
* The classic Dracula shot during the day and a Spanish language version took over the same sets at night. The Spanish Dracula is actually moodier and sexier than the English version. It's double amazing to see Universal singling that title out.