Two objective facts: James Cameron blows deadlines and James Cameron delivers. While his rap sheet is filled with over-budget near-disasters (Titanic) and long-delayed pipe dreams (Avatar and its sequel The Way of Water), few are left complaining when Cameron actually turns in his work. And now those same cranky admirers have another reason to get pumped: After years of promises that his films The Abyss and True Lies would receive proper home video releases, Cameron has finally wrapped his post-production journey. The new 4K remasters will be released digitally this December, with physical discs arriving in March 2024.
On the heels of the previously announced Titanic 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition, Disney will release new 4K transfers of The Abyss and True Lies as collector’s edition 4K Blu-rays on March 12, 2024, and as digital purchases at Apple TV, Prime Video, and Vudu beginning Dec. 12 of this year. Aliens will also get the 4K collector’s edition treatment (apologies to the other sequels in the “quadrilogy”) in March, while Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water will get collector’s edition 4K Blu-rays on Dec. 19.
For those who have kept up with Cameron’s hype over his supposed work on a restoration for The Abyss, the announcement comes as a revelation. The Abyss, Cameron’s first notorious underwater adventure movie that was plagued with behind-the-scenes drama, has a home video legacy dating back to the Laserdisc days. To go deep: Just look at this 1993 clip from Entertainment Tonight, in which Cameron explains his fight over a rare double full-screen/widescreen release.
While the film was reissued on DVD in the early 2000s, The Abyss became harder and harder to find as the industry shifted toward Blu-ray and digital releases. True Lies wound up in the same boat, leaving many die-hard Cameron buffs to wonder if they’d ever be able to watch these cutting-edge spectacles in a way that would do justice to their original theatrical exhibition. For years, Cameron blamed studio drama for keeping the films off the market, but in 2016, while promoting the first Aliens Blu-ray, he finally announced that he had begun work on a proper transfer of The Abyss.
“We’ve done a wet-gate 4K scan of the original negative, and it’s going to look insanely good,” Cameron told Variety at the time. “We’re going to do an authoring pass in the DI for Blu-ray and HDR at the same time.”
(In layman’s terms, a wet-gate transfer basically dunks a film print into a liquid solution to fill in scratches and other imperfections. Here’s a good explanation from a recent Jaws restoration. Basically, it’s going to look dope as hell.)
Cameron obviously worked steadily on perfecting The Abyss and True Lies for their home video releases, but at his own pace — the man was at work on The Way of Water, after all. But his fans... got antsy.
Now, finally, the man has delivered. Disney previously announced that Cameron’s 4K remaster of The Abyss would get a limited rerelease in theaters on Dec. 6, but until Wednesday, it was unclear if that print would get a home video release.
And not only is it hitting physical disc, but the Collector’s Edition bundles classic special features from previous releases with new bonus content, including a recent sit-down interview with Cameron and a documentary on the making and legacy of the film. The True Lies disc will include another documentary featurette going behind the scenes of the film’s major stunts. And while the Aliens release doesn’t include any new bonus content, it remains packaged with one of the all-time great behind-the-scenes documentary features: “Superior Firepower.”
The Abyss and True Lies mark a major milestone for physical releases, at a time when Disney is ramping way back up into the business. (Who among you laid down $1,500 for the 100-disc Disney box set?) But with these coveted films back on the market, film dorks need a new lost title to dream into existence. Hmm... uh, time to get Jerry Lewis’ The Day the Clown Cried on Netflix, maybe?
Pre-orders for all of Cameron’s new discs begin on Nov. 20.