It’s hard to believe 30 years have passed since Transformers: The Movie first rumbled onto screens. The morphing robot series was in its prime back in 1986, but when the film hit that summer, fans of Optimus Prime, Megatron and their respective Autobot and Decepticon crews didn’t exactly flock to theaters. Transformers’ first on-screen incarnation wound up losing millions of dollars for Hasbro and De Laurentis Entertainment Group, but its animated TV series counterpart kept chugging along. Once the franchise’s first film hit home video, though, like many other ’80s films, it grew a cult following.
In honor of Transformers: The Movie, the epic automotive struggle will receive a 30th anniversary edition from Manga Entertainment, Hasbro Films, and Shout! Factory, including a major makeover to its film quality. Get ready for the original animated Transformers in 4K!
Manga UK released a behind-the-scenes look at the digitally remastered film (watch it above) and how it’s going to be worth your viewing. In it, Joseph Slomka, the Principle Color Scientist behind the latest transfer, explains how they were able to restore the film for its anniversary print. The in-depth remastering process involved a sizable team of animators and technicians who converted the original animation cells and 35 millimeter print into the vibrant digital cut. Slomka explains how their painstaking work pays homage to the artistry of the film’s animators:
“Additionally, there’s just so much more detail in the element that we had, because we started with a very high quality piece of film, we were able to do a very high quality scan. There’s much more subtle detail in the transfer that we were able to do than had been seen before. One of the big surprises is the kind of detail you see in the introduction of Unicron and the birth of Galvatron. You can see more of what the artists actually drew inside this content than you were able to see before, those fine lines and details that simply didn’t make it through the VHS or the DVD transfer.”
From the featured clips, Transformers: The Movie looks crisper than it did on the silver screen back in 1986 thanks to the 4K transfer. The anniversary edition releases on Blu-ray and DVD September 13, 2016 in North America and December 12, 2016 in the UK on Blu-ray.
The TRANSFORMERS – THE MOVIE Limited Edition, 30th Anniversary Steelbook (2-Blu-ray™ set + Digital Copy) comes with a highly collectible Steelbook packaging that features striking key art, all-new HD transfer of the movie in widescreen and full frame on 2 Blu-rays™, immersive bonus content including brand-new featurettes, plus a digital copy of the movie.
It’s is a fitting tribute to the talented animators who crafted the original film, as well as its all-star cast, which included Eric Idle, Casey Kasem, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Peter Cullen, Robert Stack, and Frank Welker. Transformers also marked the final roles for Scatman Crothers and legendary director/actor Orson Welles (who portrayed the Galactus-like Unicron in the movie).
With such talent and amazing artistry, as well as a dedicated fan-base, modern devotees of the franchise might be surprised that Transformers: The Movie didn’t clean up at the box office. One of the reasons the otherwise entertaining film may have tanked 30 years ago was its kill-happy plot which devastated the Autobots’ ranks. A battle for their home planet of Cybertron slaughtered or wounded many of Autobots and Decepticons, including fan favorite Optimus Prime. In the course of events, Megatron was damaged and received a new body by world-devourer Unicron, becoming Galvatron. Fan favorite Hot Rod survived as well, transforming via the Matrix of Leadership into Rodimus Prime. A whole new cast of characters were introduced as well and intended to replace many of the classic shape-shifting robots.
Little did fans flocking to the would-be summer blockbuster realize that Hasbro’s toy execs were about to introduce a whole new line of Transformers toys for the next TV (and holiday) season. Wiping out dozens of characters which the show had developed over the past two seasons backfired, at least as far as Transformers: The Movie‘s cinematic draw was concerned. The backlash against killing Optimus Prime was so great that the animated series included a two-part episode resurrecting him the following season. Aside from the legions of teary-eyed whelps clutching their Autobots, the franchise endured, though. It eventually spawned Michael Bay’s CGI-heavy blockbusters.
Transformers – The Movie will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on September 13, 2016. Transformers: The Last Knight opens in U.S. theaters on June 23, 2017, followed by the Bumblebee spinoff on June 8, 2018, and Transformers 6 on June 28, 2019.
Sources: Manga UK, Hasbro, Shout! Factory