The Big Picture
- James Cameron surprised attendees at Beyond Fest by participating in a Q&A session about The Abyss’ extended Special Edition and confirming the highly anticipated 4K transfer of the movie.
- Cameron mentioned that all the mastering has been done and the transfer will be available on streaming simultaneously with added material. He wanted to do it right and not just look at the old HD transfer.
- Despite not meeting immense success at the box office upon its release in 1989, The Abyss‘ DNA can be found in a variety of movies. Cameron cited The Day the Earth Stood Still as a major influence and expressed his fascination with the underwater world. The movie won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
On Wednesday, the legendary director James Cameron made a surprise appearance at the Los Angeles genre festival, Beyond Fest. He participated in a Q&A session discussing The Abyss following a rare screening of the film’s extended Special Edition, which runs for two hours and 51 minutes.
To the attendees’ delight, the Digital Cinema Package (DCP) presentation turned out to be the highly anticipated 4K transfer of the movie that Cameron had announced the previous year. Although Cameron had previously mentioned that the physical and streaming releases of this transfer were beyond his control at this stage, all work has clearly been completed given its surprise bow.
“All of the mastering is done and I think it drops pretty soon — a couple of months or something like that,” said Cameron, responding to a question from an audience member. “There’s a lot of added material that they’re sticking in there, and it will be available on streaming simultaneously. But I didn’t just want to look at the old HD transfer. I wanted to do it right.”
The Legacy of ‘The Abyss’
Upon its release in 1989, The Abyss was a rare Cameron project that didn’t meet immense success at the box office, earning just shy of $90 million, which was around double its budget. Speaking with the event’s moderator, Jim Hemphill, the director admitted the film’s DNA could be found in a variety of places.
“I think anybody that was a movie fan at that time — we’re talking 34 years ago — could see the DNA from other movies, from ‘Close Encounters’ to the Cold War sub movies, so obviously I was being pulled in different directions. But the one that stands above the others is ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’ which is a philosophical sci-fi film that asked the question ‘are we worthy if we were to be judged by a higher intelligence?’ That had a big impact on me as a kid and I wanted to do my own version of that but set it underwater because I was fascinated by the underwater world. It all made sense to me at the time, that’s all I can say,”
The movie is set in the deep sea and follows a team of underwater oil drillers who are recruited by the U.S. Navy to assist in a rescue mission. The plot centers around the discovery of a mysterious and advanced alien species deep beneath the ocean’s surface. It showcased remarkable special effects and won the 1990 Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Similar CGI technological tools were later used to equally powerful effect in his follow-up, Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
There is no release date yet to purchase The Abyss in 4K but as Cameron said at the event it should drop “in a couple months.” Stay tuned at Collider for future updates.