'Flash Gordon' is getting a 4K remaster for 40th anniversary: See new trailer and artwork

Brian Blessed takes flight in detail from the new Flash Gordon art work. (Studiocanal)
Brian Blessed takes flight in detail from the new Flash Gordon art work. (Studiocanal)

Flash! Ah-ah! He'll save every one of us! Flash Gordon, the saviour of the universe, is returning in 4K to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the cult classic sci-fi.

Studiocanal has announced a special 40th anniversary 4K restoration of Mike Hodges’ 1980 film that starred Sam J. Jones, Max Von Sydow, Brian Blessed, and Timothy Dalton and featured a soundtrack by Queen and Howard Blake. It promises to show the film like its never been seen before, with new CGI work to fix some dated VFX work including removing visible wires.

This restoration was approved by director Mike Hodges in May 2020, and the release will include the first 4K HDR Dolby Vision master of Flash Gordon.

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The film will be available as a Collector’s Edition, Steelbook, Blu-ray, DVD and on VOD. Cinema screenings are TBC as theatres remain closed for now.

To promote the release, there’s a brand new trailer and poster –designed by Matt Ferguson – below.

For the new 40th Anniversary 4K restoration, Flash Gordon was scanned from the original 35mm negative to produce 4K files. Over 500 hours of manual restoration repaired serious damage that included image instability, scratches and intermittent flicker.

The sound was scanned from the original track negative and underwent restoration to improve issues ranging from audio drop-outs throughout the feature and during reel changes, digital clicks and optical distortion.

The new Flash Gordon art work, designed by Matt Ferguson. (Studiocanal)
The new Flash Gordon art work, designed by Matt Ferguson. (Studiocanal)

The film was colour graded for theatrical, home entertainment and 4K HDR release, using previous digital releases and 35mm prints as a reference. In line with the director’s vision and the original 35mm cinema release, VFX work was applied to remove the strings in all scenes where visible.

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“I’m very grateful to Studiocanal for this brilliant 4k restoration,” Hodges said. “The restoration captures perfectly the vivid colours of the sets, skies and costumes. It also corrects some of the problems encountered with the special effects system we used. With Chroma key compositing we could insert skies, rocket ships, hawk-men, pretty well whatever we wanted, into the blue backing built into the studio sets. The problems came later when we had to eliminate, for example, the wires used on the hawk-men.

The 5 disc Collector’s Edition of Flash Gordon. (Studiocanal)
The 5 disc Collector’s Edition of Flash Gordon. (Studiocanal)

“We were eventually successful but even then some 35mm prints were variable and the wires would be back again. With this new restoration that problem is thankfully laid to rest. Of course Chroma key is primitive by the side of the current process, CGI (Computer Generated Imaging). That said I’m pleased we stuck with the old fashioned system. CGI would have been too slick. After all Flash Gordon was a cartoon strip from the 1930s brought back to life on celluloid some five decades later.”

Special features:

The UHD, DVD and Blu-Ray Disc 1 includes:

  • The main feature (1 hr 47)

  • New Lost in Space: Nic Roeg’s Flash Gordon (also iTunes extra)

  • Audio commentary with Mike Hodges

  • Audio commentary with Brian Blessed

  • Behind the scenes of Flash Gordon

  • Stills gallery (also iTunes extra)

  • Storyboards gallery (also iTunes extra)

  • Original theatrical trailer

Blu-Ray Disc 2 includes:

  • Interview with Mike Hodges

  • Interview with comic book artist Alex Ross TBC

  • Interview with screenwriter Lorenzo Semple, Jr. TBC

  • Episode 24 of Flash Gordon (1979-1982): The Survival Game / Gremlin’s Finest Hour

  • Sam Jones’s acting start

  • Entertainment Earth on Flash Gordon merchandise

  • Bob Lindenmayer discusses deleted scenes and original endings

  • 35th Anniversary Greenroom

  • 35th Anniversary reunion featurette

  • Renato Casaro extended interview

  • Brian Blessed anecdotes

  • Melody’s musings

  • On the soundtrack (Brian May & Howard Blake)

  • Easter Eggs

The 5 disc Collector’s Edition includes:

  • The UHD and 2 Blu-ray discs

  • Bonus Blu-Ray Disc of LIFE AFTER FLASH, the 2017 feature documentary celebrating the film and it’s star, directed by Lisa Downs

  • Original soundtrack by Queen & Howard Blake

  • 32 page booklet

  • 16 page Titan mini book (The Story of Flash Gordon)

  • Reproduced booklet of the first strip of original comic books

  • Poster of original artwork

  • 4 artcards of various incarnations of Flash film posters across the years

  • 1 sew on 'Flash patch'

TECH SPECS - 1980 / Feature running time: 1hr47mins / Certificate: DVD: PG - Blu-ray, Steelbook & Collector’s Edition: 15

RRPs - DVD £17.99 / Blu-Ray £22.99 / Steelbook £39.99 / Collector’s Edition £69.99

HE Release: August 3rd (4K UHD Collector’s edition, Blu-ray, Steelbook, DVD and digital)