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Big Trouble In Little China (John Carpenter, 1986) – 35mm Scan

41 Replies, 10600 Views

With the successful financing of The Keep, I thought I'd go back to that StrawPoll to see what was next on that list and start up another one and see what happens. If it doesn't get funded, oh well. If it does, then cool, another preservation available on the list.


Anyways, although technically two HD masters exist of it already at the moment, Big Trouble In Little China is a movie that I believe deserves a print scan for a couple of reasons. Apart from the fact that it's an enjoyable cult classic and it'd cool to see how it looks with the release print grain and whatnot, the biggest thing that should be addressed I believe are the colors.

In a couple of threads here on FanRes, this movie's been discussed a number of times in the past about how the colors on both HD masters are wrong.

The Fox HD master is not only stone old, but it sucked out all of the Cundey blues and warmed the picture up far too much to create a rather neutral looking master. Although the newer Euro / Netflix master attempts to recreate the original grading, it too suffers a slew of problems, from the poor / murky black level and the fact that much of the movie ended up accidentally homogenizing into a teal and orange color scheme, sacrificing other colors as a result. You can see a comparison between the two masters here if anyone is curious.

As reported by users who have witnessed 35mm and 70mm screenings of the movie.
(2017-10-13, 12:31 AM)Beber Wrote: Right when the truck enters the alley, it's very blue. Then it's mostly greenish. The lightning effects are cyan-blue. Overall, the movie is mostly greenish. The beginning credits are very blue, and the Budha statues area at Lo Pan's place is quite blue, mostly because of the carpet.

(2018-06-07, 09:28 PM)zoidberg Wrote: The new colour timing is quite something isn't it? I was lucky enough to catch a 70mm screening in April and sure enough it was dark, moody and blue blue blue. It looks like the Netflix was a genuine attempt to go back to the theatrical colours, although the Netflix timing has more consistent orangey skin tones whereas the 70mm tends to vary going from pinkish to orange to brown sometimes, but that's photochemical colour timing for you. The 'green flames' on the 70mm were genuine vivid green whereas the Netflix has somewhat tealer greens. If anything the 70mm was bluer than the Netflix which surprised me.

zoidberg Wrote:I like to think my memory of the screening (70mm, not 35mm) is good but no-one's memory is perfect, it was very blue in much the same way I describe T2 as blue, inasmuch as it's very present throughout but not at the expense of other colours (ie not a blanket tint).

As such, I believe that it'd be a good idea to at least consider scanning the 35mm print in my trusted associate's collector's inventory in an attempt to preserve the original photochemical color grade, so that the movie can be enjoyed in its original form in 4K (or to be used to even regrade one of the HD masters). Especially since Shout! Factory ended up dropping the ball by recycling the aforementioned outdated Fox master from 2009 in their recent blu-ray release which is a damn shame.

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Roughly estimating the costs: $250 renting the print, $100 for two-way shipping, $75 for FilmGuard treatment, $495 for the scanning itself, & $100 for a hard drive. The total would likely end up around $885

Like the previous project, I will just be holding pledges for now until the gap can be closed where I will then send out links to a private PayPal Pool.




Pledged Total: $389.5 – 44%
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(This post was last modified: 2020-11-12, 12:15 PM by LucasGodzilla. Edit Reason: Updated pledges )
I like the way the Arrow disc looked
TBF the 2009 master is a decent scan in terms of detail/sharpness, it's just very pink. I'm pretty certain the theatrical colours can be gotten from the 2009, not so much the newer Netflix/DCP as the grading is too destructive.

There is always the question of the Oval/Round gong though lol
Count me in Smile
I'd like to help!
(2020-05-28, 02:29 AM)Inq81 Wrote: Count me in Smile

(2020-05-28, 04:46 AM)alinskey Wrote: I'd like to help!

How much you y'all like to pledge then? Any amount would be greatly helpful and appreciated!
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Me too.

£10 (or does it have to be in dollars?)
(2020-05-28, 10:01 AM)Hitcher Wrote: Me too.

£10 (or does it have to be in dollars?)

It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things, but for the estimate, I'll just convert it to USD to make things easier to keep track. Thank you though!
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Put me down for £10, Lucas. I have a friend who's a massive Carpenter fan, I'd love to show him this version eventually. Smile

Was there ever a need for a scan of The Thing?
(2020-06-02, 11:48 AM)Kynch Wrote: Put me down for £10, Lucas. I have a friend who's a massive Carpenter fan, I'd love to show him this version eventually. Smile

Was there ever a need for a scan of The Thing?

Thanks for your pledge, I have noted it down!

There wasn't a need necessarily, but there are minor disputes over the color grading that's been sort of worsened by the fact that Dean Cundey ended up approving several different transfers of the movie over the years, each with their own color grading (the consensus at least seems to be that the Shout! Factory color timing is wrong though).

However, that's not to say it isn't in the cards theoretically. Although I'd much rather get other John Carpenter movies scanned over The Thing, such as The Fog, the collector I am sourcing my prints from does seem to have it ("THING, THE (1982)- SCOPE, Eastman, 6rls* # ^").

So supposing you do the quick cost calculation to account for rental, shipping, scanning, and FilmGuard, the total would come up to around $970. So in theory, with this information, you could start a preservation thread for the movie yourself; I'm sure a number of folks out there would like to see that happen (and I could PM you more sensitive details on this if you are interested and plan on pressing on with this idea).
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(This post was last modified: 2020-06-02, 11:10 PM by LucasGodzilla.)

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