Lately the blogosphere has been running rampant with conspiracy theories over the “mysteriously missing” Blu-ray edition of Disney’s 1982 cyber-cult landmark TRON, a film by at least a decade ahead of its time in pioneering computer graphic visual effects and inspiration of this December’s highly anticipated sequel TRON LEGACY. Fans and programs across the grid are blowing their circuits, accusing Disney of holding out on the TRON Blu-ray because the film’s vintage visuals compared to today’s cutting edge CG photorealism might disappoint viewers and/or dissuade audiences from buying tickets to its theatrical sequel next month.
FilmEdge doesn’t hold all the answers but we’ll attempt to put the conspiratorial blog-sploitation to rest by applying some logic to the topic that would make Kevin Flynn proud.
_VIRTUAL REALITY: rumors circulated the internet grid that TRON was scheduled for a November 2010 Blu-ray release in anticipation of TRON LEGACY’s theatrical debut the next month.
True, but rumors are just unconfirmed facts until they’re proven completely accurate or totally useless. Without official confirmation from studios, pinpointing future DVD/Blu-ray releases is hardly an exact science. More importantly, even announced street dates are often subject to change and, not surprisingly, without notice. So if there is a strategic change in release by the studio, odds are we may not hear about it nor get handed a new date when such a change is made. The point is: such release date changes are rather common in the home entertainment game, but the world rarely hears (or cares) about the discrepancy.
>REALITY CHECK #1: in the case TRON rezzing up on Blu-ray after all these years, a delay is neither strange or suspicious compared to the industry standard of swapping release dates.
_CONSPIRACY THEORY: Disney is shaking in its Light Cycle boots that new audiences seeing TRON and its vintage visual effects will not go see TRON LEGACY in theaters.
First, let’s give moviegoers smart enough to get into the high-tech virtual reality of TRON LEGACY some credit for having a few bits of brain processing. Even film fans too young to have known 1982’s TRON in its original release or subsequent home vid incarnations can still comprehend differentiate expectations between an early-1980s sci-fi film and a 2010 CG extravaganza. Steven Lisberger’s silicon fantasy-adventure, starring Jeff Bridges as the programmer zapped into the computer world he helped create, does not exist in a cinematic vacuum: it resides in context with all other films released in its day and movie fans understand this naturally. Audiences see it all the time in the myriad of other films not released in the past ten years and they expect movies from the past to look and act accordingly. That quality is both their value and their cinematic beauty — they look “old” because they are in short or long terms of today’s cinema. The best of these hold cherished moviegoing memories which makes them all the more enjoyable to us, not less.
>REALITY CHECK #2: fans smart enough not to hold TRON and TRON LEGACY side-by-side with a near-thirty-year gap between in production and expect them to look identical will also know which film they’re buying a ticket for and why. These same cinephiles haven’t stopped buying classic and plain old films on Blu-ray and none of them expect Bogart to mow down the Nazis with an M-41A pulse rifle because CASABLANCA is now in Hi-Def. His jaundiced cynicism and steel-jawed defiance is just as devastating today. More importantly and obviously, any one who has seen the plethora of TRON LEGACY trailers, TV commercials and viral web saturation already has a very good clue exactly what the sequel’s mindblowing visual effects look like, whether they have seen the classic TRON or not. Audiences old and new are primed for TRON LEGACY on its own merits regardless of what has come before it.
_CONSPIRACY THEORY: Disney is somehow ashamed of TRON and is hiding it from the public.
Let me get this straight: identity disc aficionados and those yet to be initiated into the world of TRON are clamoring across the internet to see and own TRON on Blu-ray to the point they’re inventing conspiracy theories why the movie isn’t in their hands today . . . and Disney fears releasing this high-demand title? What is Disney supposed to be afraid of: making too much money? People must want to see TRON pretty badly if they’re scouring eBay for it at highly inflated bid prices… and that’s only for the standard-def, unrestored quality DVD version. That level of unrequited desire only encourages Disney to let TRON Blu-ray discs fly freely, not stash it ashamedly in a dark corner. By the way, where where those rabidly-bidding fans when Disney’s sweet 20th Anniversary TRON 2-disc DVD was released in 2002 and readily available? Don’t worry, with luck the Blu-ray edition will collect all those bonus feature documentaries for collectors who hesitated too long as Disney put TRON on moratorium, as the studio regularly does with its classics.
>REALITY CHECK #3: fans and alert viewers already know that the High-Def restoration of TRON has been made and has even aired on networks like HDNet which showed it several times. Disney didn’t spend time and money spiffing up Lisberger’s movie for practice. The return of TRON and its landing on Blu-ray were in the works not long after Comic-Con fans went berzerk watching the visual effects test reel two years ago, a roaring fan ovation which green lit the production of TRON LEGACY. The Blu-ray release of TRON is the chocolate to TRON LEGACY’s peanut butter cup: the two go together deliciously and their sum will be better than their parts. But when?
[DEBUNKING CONCLUSION]: a likely scenario for the delay in releasing TRON on Blu-ray is that marketing and selling it will be a lot easier and more successful if Disney releases it in sync with TRON LEGACY’s Blu-ray debut, and it hasn’t even opened in theaters yet. Why should Disney split the publicity heat and anticipation of both Blu-ray editions by spreading their releases six months apart? The last thing they want to do is for audiences to choose between which TRON they spend money on this holiday film season! The economy hasn’t recovered that well yet. You get one shot at hurling your disc into the whirling torrent of the MCP, so FE predicts Disney will make it count and let home vid audiences double down on TRON and TRON LEGACY at the same time. A synchronized Blu-ray release allows buyer buzz for one disc to turn up heat about the other and vice versa. Collect ’em both, as the saying goes. Oh, and wouldn’t a supersized electro-glowing box set be awesome? We’re just saying.
Give the system clock six months or less to tick away and look for TRON to debut on Blu-ray alongside TRON LEGACY in Spring 2011 or so, together again for the first time. Conspiracy theory sold separately.
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