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?
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. You see, 28 Days Later 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.
That said, should it look different?
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.
But is that a good thing?
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.
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.