I’ve seen this discussion (yellow/gold tint on Raiders blu ray) on various sites, and I don’t want to get into a big discussion or step on any toes, but I’d like to relate my experiences with this movie as I was 18 and saw it when it first came out, and people who saw it in theaters should relate their experience for how it looked originally. If no one wants to hear another raiders color experience, by all means, ignore me.
When I first saw the movie, the one thing that stood out immediately was a very warm tint, and I may have remarked to my date (now my wife) how warm the movie was. Now mind you, I wasn’t into video or audio hobbies or equipment at this point in my life, but the warmth was immediately apparent to me. It looked like most outdoor scenes were shot in morning or evening light, but bright as normal daylight. The Nepal bar scenes were definitely warm looking (yellow/red tints). I saw the movie a couple of times in big theaters and it was always the same. When it first aired on television, I thought how it already looked old and faded and cold (no warm tint). Every release I’ve seen since then (only vhs and dvd) looked as if it was taken from an old faded videotape of the movie. It never looked right (or like I first saw it in theaters). It always seemed cold and somehow faded, and looked like a 50’s or 60’s faded movie.
When I first saw the 2012 Blu ray, I thought to myself, “Finally, this movie looks like I remember!” It’s warm and friendly looking again. Just my 2 cents, but the (2012) blu ray version looks closest to what I remember seeing in theaters. Now I’ll grant you, the cave shots may be a bit brighter, and some scenes look blurry (the spiders on their backs), so maybe not perfect, but good.
I’m not going to argue if someone wants the yellows toned down a bit, or darkens the movie a tad, or even if they want to perfectly correct the colors, but the blu ray is essentially the experience I had in theaters if you want the original theater look. With all the home releases viewed over the years, even people who saw it in theaters may have skewed memories of how warm this movie was, but my memory of how warm the movie was has actually stuck with me all these years, even before there was a yellow tint/no tint debate. Again, just my $.02.
With all due respect, your recollections are wrong. While some original prints may have looked warmer than others (Fuji prints in particular) absolutely none of them looked like the blu-ray because it was digitally color graded from scratch using a scan of the original negative. What many people don’t understand is that the negative DOES NOT have the theatrical color timing. It is low contrast and designed to be printed to interpositive film that will then show the correct contrast and that is where the color timing happens. Each shot is carefully color timed and balanced to have the correct exposure and color so scenes shot on different film stocks and cameras match. The interpositive has the correct look, not the negative. Prints are made based on the interpositive. So scanning a negative requires digitally recreating (or reimagining) the original look. In the case of Raiders, they took creative license and applied an orange/teal color scheme that would have been literally impossible to create with old photochemical color timing. So you definitely never saw that in original prints. A bit warmer, maybe, but not like the blu-ray.
All video releases up to the blu-ray were created from an interpolative, so they reflect the original timing to varying degrees. The faded look you mention would be more related to standard definition not having the best color reproduction and older scanning technology. The 4K release is based on the same negative scan used for the blu-ray, but they went back and removed the worst (but not all) of the revisionist color. They also did a lot more digital fixes and tweaks including one glaring error. But nothing approaching the changes in Star Wars.
The print this 35mm restoration is based on is an original Kodak print and reflects what most people would have seen back in 1981. Depending on the temperature of the projector light, the warmth could have varied, but would never have resulted in anything like the orange/teal look. I have also seen scans of 2 original Fuji prints, which are warmer, but look nothing like the blu-ray. There is some evidence that the color timing was tweaked in the 1983 re-release resulting in the bar scenes being warmer, so if you saw a release later than 1983 that could have been the case. But again, just warmer, not the blu-ray color grading.