To celebrate its 100th anniversary, Universal restores 13 classic movies to pristine condition.
Universal execs were terrified by Gregory Peck's unsexy race-relations movie To Kill a Mockingbird in 1962, but now the studio is celebrating its own 100th anniversary with the 50th-anniversary Blu-ray debut of the triple Oscar winner. Throughout 2012, Universal will release 12 more film restorations, from 1930's All Quiet on the Western Front to 1993's Schindler's List. Each cost $250,000 to $600,000 to restore. The work is about half done, and release dates will soon be announced. "The original negatives were fed like meat through a grinder for years," says NBCUniversal vp technical services Peter Schade, whose team devised ingenious digital fixes for the scarred classics using the old negatives. In Doris Day's 1959 comedy Pillow Talk, torn frames were repaired, and faded dyes regained a Day-Glo-like brilliance. Jaws (1975) got brighter and lost once-visible prop wires. By Halloween, when three classic Universal monster movies will be promoted, Bela Lugosi's coffin will regain its eerie squeak in 1931's Dracula. Why the pricey orgy of restoration? "My kids don't know these films," explains Universal Studios president and COO Ron Meyer. Now his kids' kids will be able to see them in pristine condition.