I have some bits of 35mm from The Little Mermaid with film code dated 1990. So maybe a trailer (or also bits of actual release as well?) from the UK? Anyway, it should be before the scanned and loaded it into computers to fix up for the 1997 re-release (unless they really used almost decade old film stock, which seems not too likely, unless they did that for trailers at times).
The colors seem pretty intense! The print also gets pretty dark for dark regions.
I have no xenon bulb now so all I could do was try to view with a daylight incandescent bulb (maybe around 6000k?) on a slide sorter tray, not sure that gives a perfect impression, but whatever for now, based on that:
colors don’t match anything on:
however, they actually seem closer overall to the last three (2006 DVD, 2013 blu, 2019 blu) on the fanpop site above than to the first three (VHS, 1990 laser, 1999 limited DVD)
they like sort of like a mix of various bits of 2006 DVD, 2013 blu, 2019 blu and stuff simply not seen on anything on the sites above
Granted, it’s hard to yet really compare, since it’s hard to stare at calibrated HDTV and lit film at the same time (and it may not really have been lit quit the right way either), but for what I could do with that for now, my feeling is that:
NONE of the home versions look accurate to the 1989/1990 look (or to what I hope truly is the 1989/1990 look) theatrical release!
Granted, I don’t know how those VHS and laserdisc frames were captured, the capture process itself could potentially distort things itself, but as shown there, neither than VHS NOR Laserdisc look to have particularly accurate look compared to the actual film itself. And there is perhaps a reason NTSC was called Never The Same Color Twice (then again, I think that said those were from a Danish release, which probably means PAL, but whatever the colors still seem nothing like the film at all).
It’s also tricky since the colors do change from scene to scene as they lit it differently and I don’t necessarily have the scenes to match the ones on the websites above, but I do have a couple that are the same and a few close.
Anyway, the bottom frames, the newest blu-ray 2019, actually do seem in some ways actually maybe heading towards the most accurate overall, but not entirely. Sort of like some mix of the bottom three frames (2006 Platinum DVD, 2013 Diamond blu-ray , 2019 Signature blu-ray) plus that stuff that simply looks like none of them would be most accurate.
That 2013 release actually seems to more often get her sea shells closer to the correct color I think, the 2019 often makes them a bit too dark and a bit too saturated, although in a few scenes, the 2019 is more accurate. Sometimes the 2019 maybe makes her skin a touch too saturated and a trace heading towards a wrong shade. OTOH, the 2019 generally seems to make her tail more vibrant and rich than most of the other versions, which is more accurate, if sometimes STILL not intense and vibrant enough (these 35mm bits REALLY pop with the color saturation)! The 2013 sometimes makes her tail not vibrant enough or certain greenish elements a trace too blue perhaps. The 2006 makes her tail vibrant too fairly often, but sometimes, maybe fairly often, gets maybe a bit too greenish.
None of them seem to get Flounder as deeply saturated as he seems to be in the film at times and many skew too pure yellowish (too much towards a lighter, bluer yellow).
In some scenes, Sebastian’s red is absolutely glowing in the film, none of the home release clips shown on that website come close to matching the brilliance and saturation of his red in some of the scenes as seen on film.
It may well be that some of the colors in this film are also simply beyond not just NTSC/PAL colors but beyond sRGB/REC709 color gamut. I’ll have to compare to the wide gamut UHD and see if that brings some of them to the film’s intensity.
In the jellyfish scene shown on the website (http://images6.fanpop.com/image/forum/228000/228686_1567725027549_full.png), none of them make that scene look correct.
The 2013 blu-ray has the background above her head too blue-skewed and her tail is not nearly vibrant enough and a touch too blue-skewed. Only the 2019 blu even begins to get her tail vibrant enough, but still falls short of the film. None of them come even wildly close to how popping beyond popping intense red Sebastian is in the film there. On the film the jellyfish looks vaguely like the top half of the 1999 DVD combined with the bottom half of the it on the 2019 blu, sort of.
Regarding where she pops up to meet the Albatross and is with Flounder, I don’t quite have it to where he holds the fork/dinglehopper [EDIT: do have that but not compared yet], but near that it seems like (assuming the rendering of the way they colored the scene didn’t change more than I think between the part I have and what is shown on the website):
VHS and Laserdisc have very poor colors compared to the real film all around.
Only the 2006 DVD and 2019 blu make her tail remotely intense enough, but I think the 2006 DVD probably make her tail likely a bit too green-skewed.
None make flounder quite the right shade, none saturated enough.
None quite seem to have the shade or saturation of her shells quite a match.
None seem to quite have the color of the sky right, maybe the bottom two are getting closer although only the 2006 has some of the extra subtle alternate shades apparent in the film, not that it gets the blue part right.
The VHS, Laserdisc, 1999 DVD all seem to get the sky rather wrong.
But take this with a grain of salt (other than for sure the colors can be really intensely saturated! I think some of those saying the digital home media releases hyped up the colors and the film was much duller are totally wrong). It also seems very likely the 2019 does make her shells often too saturated and dark.
The 2006 likely often goes too green to some degree or another and the 2013 likely a bit too blue, although this stuff is a little more dicey without a proper xenon projection.
On a side note, the original 35mm theatrical presentation may not have accurately matched the original cells. Film does do certain odd things color-wise at times. So as to what version is closest to the original cells, who knows (but it could hardly be the VHS or Laserdisc). Then again, who ever saw the movie as the original cells? So not sure that should really be the goal.