If you’ve been looking to reacquaint yourself with the original 1982 TRON before the release of the sequel TRON: Legacy next month, you might have a hard time doing so unless you’re willing to spend some time searching or laying out some semi-big bucks. The original DVD release from 2002 has been out of print for some time. Online retailers are out of stock and the title is currently fetching upwards of $60 on ebay.
Now, one would assume that with a new TRON movie coming out, Disney would want to capitalize on the surrounding hype by making sure that the original was in stores for people to buy. TRON’s director Steven Lisberger has even reportedly recently finished up supervising a new high-definition transfer of the film for Blu-Ray, and yet there is no sign of it on any upcoming release schedule.
All of this has led the LA Times Hero Complex blog to speculate as to whether Disney isn’t intentionally trying to keep the original film from the public eye as much as possible.
Why would that be? Well, the theory goes that Disney may just be nervous that the original film’s computer-created effects, although groundbreaking at the time, may just seem a little too dated and cheesy for today’s audiences and as such, may turn them off from going to see the new film.
Of course, Disney rebutted the accusation, stating that the Blu-Ray release will happen at some point in 2011. Lisberger also dismissed the allegation, saying “They’re trying to figure out when the best time is to release it. I don’t think there’s anything intentional going on to deprive TRON fans of the new edition.”
Personally, I would be willing to bet that Disney’s “best time is to release” the original TRON will magically fall around the same time TRON: Legacy will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray.
But I have to admit that there is some weight behind the idea that the House of Mouse might be nervous about the original’s dated effect work. I recently popped my own DVD copy of TRON into the home theater system to watch a couple of segments and gave myself pause to wonder about how the special effect work might play for someone coming to the movie for the first time. Sure, I have no problem watching it. I saw TRON in the theaters as a kid, so I have a certain amount of nostalgia for the movie that forgives some of its clunkiness. Also, I can maintain an historical perspective on things, reminding myself that such computer-generated effect work was in its infancy.
So I can see Disney’s logic, if it is indeed the case that they don’t want audiences to compare the visual effect work on a film almost two decades old with one they have coming out in theaters next month. Of course, that doesn’t mean I agree with their rationale. Hopefully, when the original TRON does reemerge on home video, people will embrace it and put to rest the fears of those marketing folks who may be behind the decision to delay the release.