Back in August, director J.J. Abrams confirmed that the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens character Captain Phasma was actually named after director Don Coscarelli's Phantasm. J.J. Abrams revealed that he was a longtime fan of the 1979 cult classic, which lead to this character name, but, as it turns out, he's actually helping to preserve this beloved film for a new generation. Ain't It Cool News revealed that the director and his Bad Robot company are working with Don Coscarelli on a 4K restoration of Phantasm, and shared the first photos from the new print, which you can check out below.
The news came out of the site's annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon event, which is held at the Alamo Drafthouse theater in Austin, Texas every December. Don Coscarelli showed up to the event over the weekend to give fans a taste of their work-in-progress print, which has been restored from the original camera negative. Entertainment Weekly also spoke with Don Coscarelli himself, who revealed how J.J. Abrams became involved in the restoration.
"He's a longtime fan of Phantasm. He saw the movie when he was a kid and it stuck with him. I first met him about 15 years ago. He was doing Felicity, and he called me out of the blue, and told me he was a fan. Then, I introduced him to Angus Scrimm, and he put him into the Alias TV series in a recurring role. [The restoration] came about because he wanted to show Phantasm at Bad Robot. I told him, 'Well, the prints are really bad.' He generously offered to help create a restoration. Obviously that's an offer we couldn't refuse. [Laughs.] J.J. had a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for making the film look as great as it could possibly look. You know, it was a movie made in the '70s. Obviously a lot of the lab work and all those kinds of things wasn't up to the level and sophistication [of today]. This is a meticulous 4K restoration from the original camera negative, which we went back and scanned, and, maybe even more exciting, a brand new 5.1 audio soundtrack. It really sounds great."
The director added that the print still has about a month's worth of work that still needs to be finished, but he also said that he's been talking to "a number of people" about putting this new version of Phantasm in theaters, although he wouldn't specify when a theatrical release may happen. Don Coscarelli also added that a Blu-ray release will also be forthcoming, adding a hilarious detail about the iconic character The Tall Man, played by Angus Scrimm. Here's what he had to say about the Blu-ray release.
"Oh, yeah, absolutely. The beautiful part about it nowadays is that fans have home theaters which are almost as good as real theaters. With the technology, they can see it in this beautiful - I mean, I guess you can say that the Tall Man's balls are a lot more shiny. [Laughs.] I don't know if you can put that in, but it's true!"
Don Coscarelli added that he had to put some of his work on the final Phantasm movie, Phantasm: Ravager, on hold to complete this restoration. However, work on that movie is "pretty much done," adding that he's eyeing a first or second quarter 2016 release for the project. Take a look at the new photos from the Phantasm restoration below, and stay tuned for more details.