Friedkin's SORCERER To Be Unleashed Once Again!

Jason Gorber, Featured Critic
As part of my crazy long interview with William Friedkin that you should really read, I brought up the possibility of finally seeing Sorcerer given the respect it's due.

Here's how that part of the conversation went:

I have lots of people who are wondering about the status of Sorcerer.

Paramount and Universal produced Sorcerer in 1977. They made a very bad VHS, and never wanted to make a DVD.

What they have allowed for the decades since Sorcerer, they've allowed the prints to be screened by universities, and film societies, and art houses. They even made a new print last year, for the American Cinematheque. They had lines around the block, and they could have run it ten days or more. They had this one screening, and I went to it, I did a Q&A, it was great, people loved it.

Now, there's this group in Los Angeles called Cinefamily, and they have several thousand members, and they screen classics. They requested a print of Sorcerer, and they were told by both Paramount and Universal that they no longer owned it and they didn't know who did, which is total bullshit, as they had made a new print last year.

So, I started to call people there, and I got the same answer from even the guy who's the head of Universal, who I've known for 40 years! So, he's in the dark about it.

So, I had to bring suit against both studios. If it's true, that neither one of them still own it, then I want to own it, simply to make it available on DVD and Blu-ray and to have it run by universities and film societies.

I'm not suing them for money.

I said in my lawsuit, which is in front of the 9th District Court of Appeals, that if there are any funds that I derive from this suit, that they'll be devoted to film preservation.

Where it stands now, the judge who caught the case has ordered that these settlement conferences are to be resolved by November 26th of this year. If they're not resolved, he has set the case over for trial, for a full trial in March of 2013.

I'm trying to get it back for the thousands of people that have requested it! I have at least a half a dozen great companies that want to distribute it on DVD and Blu-Ray!

My vote's for Criterion!

I'm surprised that the studios didn't cave in right away. There's a lot of chicanery in what they did, when they put this film and many others in an offshore company that no longer exists, and could never do business in the United States. It was simply a company that they formed to distribute their films overseas.

I got some good news that showed up in my inbox while I was re-watching Killer Joe on Blu, a good omen if there ever was one (wait, that was Richard Donner... you know what I mean).

Seems that the threat of that March 2013 trial has come and gone - Friedkin is now telling The Wrap that "a 'major studio' has gotten involved in creating a new recolored, digital print and that he hopes it will be ready in time for the Venice Film Festival this August.

I've been waiting decades to finally see this film in a manner that's befitting of it - I adore The Wages of Fear very much, yet have never seen Friedkin's take on it. Expect even before the release in August to have a Blu-ray release announcement as well - my vote, for the record, is still with Criterion!
Around the Internet:
  • mightyjoeyoung

    "I've been waiting decades to finally see this film in a manner that's befitting of it - I adore The Wages of Fear very much, yet have never seen Friedkin's take on it. Expect even before the release in August to have a Blu-ray release announcement as well - my vote, for the record, is still with Criterion!"
    It should have been Criterion, would have been nice to have that DVD next to Wages of fear.
    Even though I prefer the original, it´s nice that film is getting a release, thanks Mr Gorber.

  • harumph

    One of the few sequels to surpass the original. I saw it theatrically in Chicago, and later bought the laserdisc thinking that the transfer would be better than the vhs (not so much). I remember a friend of mine stitched together a "soundtrack album" by recording from my laser to a cassette deck. Ah, technology.

  • Matt

    I was at that screening the American Cinematheque did and it was the first time I got to see the film in it's proper aspect ratio since the crap DVD is fullscreen. Can't wait for a blu-ray of this, one of my favorite films for sure.

  • marshy00

    Yeah, the one thing Friedkin HAS confirmed is that it WON'T be a Criterion release, but having this film remastered and on Bluray in all its glory will be a treat for all of us.

  • Mr. Cavin

    Perhaps that will free Criterion up to give us a box set of uncut Russian sci-fi from the sixties? Hey I'm dreaming over here.

  • Boo. No matter, I'm not changing my vote.

  • rondertaker

    sorcerer is fucking mesmerizing. cannot wait for a good blu ray and the chance to see it in theaters.

  • I've had the full frame DVD release for years and I've never bothered to take it out of the plastic wrap since I did not want to see it pan and scan.

  • J Hurtado

    Criterion would be good, but Friedkin has said that it isn't them. I'm very interested to see this film and to understand what all the hubbub is about.

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