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Sony Has 'Close Encounters' on Blu-ray and DVD

26 Jul, 2007 By: Thomas K. Arnold

'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'

Steven Spielberg's landmark film Close Encounters of the Third Kind is coming to DVD ($39.95) and Blu-ray Disc ($49.95) Nov. 13, four days shy of the 30th anniversary of its 1977 theatrical opening.

The Sony Pictures Home Entertainment release marks the first time a Spielberg movie has been issued on high-definition disc, and also is the first home video release of all three versions of the film: the 1977 original theatrical cut, the re-edited 1980 theatrical special edition, and Spielberg's director's cut, released in 1998.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: 30th Anniversary Ultimate Edition also includes a new interview with Spielberg specially created for this release, a retrospective documentary, and, exclusive to the 50GB Blu-ray Disc edition, new “storyboard-to-scene” comparisons and the original 1977 “Watch the Skies” featurette.

Through a process known as “seamless branching,” the Blu-ray version contains all three films on a single disc. The process identifies the differences between each version of the film, segments the footage and then arranges it into three unique playlists, so that footage used in all three films is only included on the disc once — minimizing space requirements.

“When Steven Spielberg first released his iconic masterpiece, it was universally hailed for both its cutting-edge technological effects and its compelling message of hope,” says David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. “Now, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its release, it seems only appropriate to make all three versions of the film available on the most advanced high-definition format available, Blu-ray Disc, which will add yet another new and thrilling dimension to this timeless film.”

Close Encounters was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including best director, but only won one, for best cinematography. The Academy did give a special achievement award to Frank Warner for sound effects editing.

The original theatrical cut of the film opened in 1977 and has never been released on video. Three years later, Spielberg released a re-edited version of the film, first to theaters and then to videocassette, in which he deleted several smaller scenes and added others, including a sequence showing Richard Dreyfuss inside the alien mother ship at the end of the film. In 1998, Spielberg made more changes to the film, but restored the original ending, and Close Encounters went back out to theaters as well as DVD.

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