Should the digital look of 28 Days Later be tweaked for 4K?

28 Days Later was shot in the early days of digital video and sports a unique (but dated) look. Should the new rightsholder tweak it for 4k?

Danny Boyle and Alex Garland's 28 Days Later sequel 28 Years Later (and another sequel beyond that) acquired by Sony

If you have Hulu (or Disney Star in Canada), you might have noticed that Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later is no longer available. Indeed, Disney lost the rights to the independently financed original film, with them now only owning the rights to the Searchlight-financed sequel, 28 Weeks Later. That’s why you can’t find it on streaming sites and why the Blu-ray Disc is out of print. Sony now owns the rights to the film, with it being part of the package they acquired when they bought the rights to finance the upcoming Danny Boyle/ Alex Garland sequel, 28 Years Later. So, presumably, Sony will be reissuing the film in the near future, and there’s a chance that when they do, it’ll look much better than it ever did before. But why?

28 Days Later (2003) was shot with primitive digital tech:

Yesterday, we ran a story about how Arrow Video is re-releasing Robert Rodriguez’s Mexico Trilogy on Blu-ray, but only Desperado will be in 4K. Many wondered why Once Upon a Time in Mexico wasn’t getting a 4K release. The simple fact is, but virtue of being shot digitally, with 2003-era cameras, the movie’s maximum resolution is 1080p. 28 Days Later is in a similar boat. It was one of the first films to be shot digitally. Indeed, the camera it was shot on, the Cannon XL-1, has a standard definition resolution of 720×576. That’s why the movie looks pretty much the same on DVD as on Blu-ray, as you’re just watching an upconversion. As for a 4K release, the fact is 28 Days Later is never going to look as good as some horror fans might expect. It was shot to look a certain way. But I do feel that Sony, with Boyle and Alex Garland and the original DP Anthony Dod Mantle, might be working on a restoration to improve how the film looks on digital media. Granted, this is pure speculation, but technology has come a long way, and there’s the potential for a restoration of 28 Days Later to look significantly different once it comes out. George Lucas shot Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith digitally, but they look outstanding in 4K (although it certainly took some serious work).

Does director Danny Boyle want to maintain the original look?

Here’s the thing – these movies that were shot in early digital video have been problematic in their transfer to 1080p, never mind 4K. For their release of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled on Blu-ray, Criterion was able to tweak the movie’s look in a way that was faithful to the original version but still made it look better than it ever did on DVD before. Sony will likely use some magic to make 28 Days Later look significantly different than it ever has before.

It could look different… but should it?

Given how the movie’s look compliments its tone, perhaps they’ll put out two versions, one restored and one unrestored. Whatever happens to the film will be with likely be with Danny Boyle’s full approval. Still, I think when it finally comes back out, it will spot a controversial but possibly revelatory new look.

However, consider what’s happening with the new James Cameron 4K transfers for Aliens, True Lies and The Abyss. Some fans don’t like how different the films look on 4K and that’s nothing compared to what a 28 Days Later upgrade would look like. At what point does it go beyond restoration and become revisionist filmmaking?

Do you think they should tweak the way 28 Days Later looks? Or should they just leave well enough alone? Let us know in the comments.

#digital #Days #tweaked

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *