I’ve just received a press release from Paramount Pictures Australia announcing the release on 7 August 2008 of remastered and restored versions of The Godfather, The Godfather: Part II, and The Godfather: Part III DVDs. They will be available individually, and also in a five disc package with two discs of special extras.
The restoration was a painstaking affair. I highly recommend the article on this from the Magazine of the American Society of Cinematographers. Apparently the first two movies were in a pretty bad way. There are ‘before and after’ shots there to compare.
One of the most interesting points in the article is that it seems that the appearance of VHS is what prompted film studios to start actually looking after their films: ‘the home-video boom of the 1980s proved film libraries could have indefinite, lucrative lives. Before that awareness took hold, original negatives were typically used as printing negatives, which meant the original negatives for popular pictures took a lot of abuse.’
No word on Blu-ray yet, but seeing as how the restoration was performed digitally in the 4K format (ie. 4,096 pixels wide, and as many pixels vertically as required to preserve the aspect ratio), surely this can’t be far off.
UPDATE (Monday, 30 June 2008, 9:35 pm): My supposition was correct. I’ve just been advised that The Godfather will be available in Australia on Blu-ray on 30 October 2008. I am assuming that Parts II and III will be released at the same time, and maybe also the box set (presumably the extras will be DVDs, like the brilliant five disc Blade Runner box set from Warner Bros. I’ll advise when all this is confirmed.