“We didn’t just restore Thriller, we enhanced it,” explained Landis.
Quite possibly the best music video ever made is Michael Jackson‘s “Thriller”, which surprisingly served as the album’s final single off the record-breaking album of the same name. 33 years later “Thriller” still a masterpiece, having teamed Jackson with genre legends John Landis and Rick Baker on a horror-themed story of a young Jackson who transforms into a werewolf. It boasted Baker’s Oscar-winning effects work that Landis and Baker put on display in their horror-comedy An American Werewolf in London. After Jackson’s death, and with the rise of HD and Blu-ray, fans have been screaming for a restored version of “Thriller” for years. In fact, Landis resolved his long-standing dispute with the Jackson estate back in 2012 paving the way for today’s massive announcement.
The estate of Michael Jackson announces today (Aug. 7) that Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D will debut at the 74th annual Venice Film Festival (Aug. 30-Sept. 9), Billboard reports.
The icing on the cake? In addition, the accompanying Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller documentary— originally available on VHS between 1983-1990 and not available for purchase in any format since then — will be screened in Venice. This will mark the first time that the award-winning documentary has been shown in a theater!
“All of the copies of Thriller out there now are duped,” Landis told Billboard, “and it used to drive me crazy. I’d been trying to get to the negative for a long time as the new digital technologies are amazing at restoring films. And Michael and I always intended for people to see Thriller in a movie theater.
“But we didn’t just restore Thriller,” Landis continues. “We enhanced it … like in that scene in the Wizard of Oz when Dorothy and the others are being buffed and polished inside Emerald City.”
Working in tandem with Optimum Productions, Landis helped supervise the labor-intensive restoration process that began with an extremely high-resolution version of the original 35mm negative (which wasn’t re-edited or recut in any way) before the actual 3D conversion. The enhancement also encompassed all the audio in the film from Jackson’s music and Elmer Bernstein’s score to the movie’s sound effects.
Remarking on Thriller 3D’s “spectacular visuals,” Landis teases that viewers also will be treated to a shocking surprise. Declining to reveal more hints, he says only that the “surprise takes advantage of 3D in a way that’s very effective.”
John Branca, co-executor of the estate of Michael Jackson, describes the restored and enhanced Thriller as “authentic, visceral and still impactful. When you see it in a theater on the big screen with a theater-level sound system, it’s pretty unbelievable,” he adds. “Michael was going to use 3D elements on the This Is It tour, so this is something Michael would have done. He would love this.”
Branca and fellow Jackson estate co-executor John McClain will join Landis when Michael Jackson’s Thriller 3D is screened at the Venice Film Festival along with the original Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.