Robert Harris would do anything he could to perfectly color correct the Original Theatrical Versions to match exactly how they looked when they were originally released in 1977, 1980, and 1983.
Unlike digital colour record where everything is clearly defined (RGB, HSV etc.), in case of analogue medium (i.e. film) colour is a very complex matter. "How they looked when they were originally released" is big variable and is really impossible to determine.
can someone explain this further? i remember when i saw the making of the superman II donner cut, they had all these original production notes of everything that was shot with specific details. and I know that things like lens type, shutter speed, tracking, etc are also noted - wouldnt the same thing be done for color timing? even though it was analog, wouldnt they have various color 'gradients' defined by some sort of numbering or naming convention so you dont have to guess?
I guess they would but those same settings will affect the negative completely differently based on how much it has faded. Also it would depend on not only the exact stock, but the exact batch of that stock you were printing on and so on - there's a huge wiggle room and too many variables, where these optical analog processes were involved, for these production notes to give you any 100% definite answers.
I guess if I were to make an analogy, its kind of like when you get new tile installed - if something were to happen, they go back to the original dye lot so a replacement doesnt mismatch.
is that not the case or it doesnt work that way?
That's actually a pretty good analogy - you do that and the tiles will still be a little different, because your old ones have changed a bit over time, or the new batch didn't come out looking perfectly the same due to different unpredictable factors - it happens all the time. Or as another example, my dad had a custom paintjob on his car, then my mum crashed it and when he went to the paint shop to have the replaced parts painted and asked for that same paint (he knew the number and everything) the new paint-job still didn't quite match the old one.