Secrets Behind the New 4K Restoration of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’

‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’

After a long and exhaustive restoration effort, a new 4K version of Steven Spielberg’s sci-fi epic Close Encounters of the Third Kind is heading back to theaters Friday, just in time to mark the classic’s 40th anniversary.

The movie — which stars Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon and François Truffaut — was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including for best director for Spielberg and best supporting actress for Dillon. Legendary director of photography Vilmos Zsigmond won an Oscar for the film’s cinematography, and Frank E. Warner took home a special achievement award for sound effects editing.

Following a one-week theatrical run, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release the new restoration on a three-disc 4K Ultra HD and a limited-edition three-disc 4K Ultra HD “Light and Sound” gift set, and in HD on a two-disc remastered Blu-ray. Both the Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD releases include three restored versions of the film, including the original 1977 theatrical version, the 1980 special edition and the 1997 director’s cut.

The version that is being rereleased theatrically is the final 1997 director’s cut, which is a re-edit of the 1977 version as well as some elements from the 1980 special edition, although it omits scenes inside the mothership, which Spielberg introduced in the 1980 version but later decided were a mistake.

The restoration was no easy task, says Grover Crisp, Sony’s executive vp asset management, film restoration and digital mastering. Fortunately, he had worked on the film before and knew how to approach the delicate process.

“The 1980 special edition — which included some new scenes and also deleted some scenes — was created from the original camera negative,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Then, when almost 20 years ago we had to create the director’s cut, I was faced with the problem of not having the original negative in the original version. I went looking for scenes that were cut, in order to put them back in the director’s cut. Some of that was lost at the lab in the ’70s.”

But not all was lost. “When Metrocolor lab closed [in the late ’80s], we were collecting our material and I came across some of the original missing footage,” Crisp explains. “That was really fortunate. We printed it in a different section and put it together to get the director’s cut.”

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SOURCE: The Hollywood Reporter, Carolyn Giardina