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Big Trouble In Little China (John Carpenter, 1986) – 35mm Scan

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 (Edited)

With the successful financing of The Keep (which can be found being mentioned on a few forums, EG: https://forum.fanres.com/thread-3107.html ), I thought I’d go back to an old StrawPoll survey I conducted a bit back to see what was next on that list and start up another one and see what happens. If it doesn’t get funded, oh well. If it does, then cool, another preservation available on the list.

Anyways, although technically two HD masters exist of it already at the moment, Big Trouble In Little China is a movie that I believe deserves a print scan for a couple of reasons. Apart from the fact that it’s an enjoyable cult classic and it’d cool to see how it looks with the release print grain and whatnot, the biggest thing that should be addressed I believe are the colors.

On another forum called FanRes, this movie’s been discussed a number of times in the past about how the colors on both HD masters are wrong.

The Fox HD master is not only stone old, but it sucked out all of the Cundey blues and warmed the picture up far too much to create a rather neutral looking master. Although the newer Euro / Netflix master attempts to recreate the original grading, it too suffers a slew of problems, from the poor / murky black level and the fact that much of the movie ended up accidentally homogenizing into a teal and orange color scheme, sacrificing other colors as a result.

As reported by users who have witnessed 35mm and 70mm screenings of the movie.

Right when the truck enters the alley, it’s very blue. Then it’s mostly greenish. The lightning effects are cyan-blue. Overall, the movie is mostly greenish. The beginning credits are very blue, and the Budha statues area at Lo Pan’s place is quite blue, mostly because of the carpet.

The new colour timing is quite something isn’t it? I was lucky enough to catch a 70mm screening in April and sure enough it was dark, moody and blue blue blue. It looks like the Netflix was a genuine attempt to go back to the theatrical colours, although the Netflix timing has more consistent orangey skin tones whereas the 70mm tends to vary going from pinkish to orange to brown sometimes, but that’s photochemical colour timing for you. The ‘green flames’ on the 70mm were genuine vivid green whereas the Netflix has somewhat tealer greens. If anything the 70mm was bluer than the Netflix which surprised me.

I like to think my memory of the screening (70mm, not 35mm) is good but no-one’s memory is perfect, it was very blue in much the same way I describe T2 as blue, inasmuch as it’s very present throughout but not at the expense of other colours (ie not a blanket tint).

As such, I believe that it’d be a good idea to at least consider scanning the 35mm print in my trusted associate’s collector’s inventory (“BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986)- SCOPE, LPP; 6rls, Good^#”) in an attempt to preserve the original photochemical color grade, so that the movie can be enjoyed in its original form in 4K (or to be used to even regrade one of the HD masters). Especially since Shout! Factory ended up dropping the ball by recycling the aforementioned outdated Fox master from 2009 in their recent blu-ray release which is a damn shame.

Roughly estimating the costs: $250 renting the print, $100 for two-way shipping, $75 for FilmGuard treatment, $495 for the scanning itself, & $100 for a hard drive. The total would likely end up around $1020

Like the previous project, I will just be holding pledges for now until the gap can be closed where I will then send out links to a private PayPal Pool.

So far we have pledges from…

  • $10 – FilmD00d
  • $25 – Gryfun3 (FanRes)
  • $40 – Soupdrinker0
  • $5 – CG77 (SWT)
  • $20 – SpacemanDoug
  • $5 – SkinnyV
  • $25 – zxthehedgehog (SWT)
  • $15 – Inq81 (FanRes)
  • TBA – alinskey (FanRes)
  • £10 / $12.5 – Hitcher (FanRes)
  • £10 / $12.5 – Kynch (FanRes)
  • $15 – craigbillet
  • $20 – Tatooine_Coffee_Shop (SWT)
  • £10 / $12.5 – Monsieur Hulot (SWT)
  • $25 – scruffy (SWT)
  • $5 – desertfox (SWT)
  • $20 – 3Maters
  • $10 – Bobson Dugnutt
  • $15 – Maksnew
  • $20 – kubi (SWT)
  • $20 – shiftyeyes (SWT)

Pledged Total: $332.5 – 32.6%

If I seem inactive, check me on FanRes: https://forum.fanres.com/user-1389.html

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This is going to be a treat!

Collector of digitally preserved 35mm feature film prints

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You’re welcome. I went to a secret 80s 35mm marathon a few years back here in NYC and this was one of the surprise films. So excited to see the 35mm look again!