MTI Film recently delivered a meticulously restored and remastered version of the 1971 sci-fi classic Escape from the Planet of the Apes to 20th Century Fox. Conducted under the direction of Fox Manager of Preservation Victoria Stevenson, 4K restoration work spanned three months, with deliverables including DCP and UHD masters for planned broadcast and home entertainment release.
Directed by Don Taylor from a script by Paul Dehn, Escape is widely considered the best of the original Planet of the Apes sequels. It inverts the plot of the original film as a trio of apes, played by Roddy McDowall, Kim Hunter and Sal Mineo, flee the destruction of the Earth (which capped the second film in the series) and travel backwards in time to 1973 Los Angeles.
In restoring the film, MTI Film’s team, led by Production Manager Bridgid O’Donnell, worked from the original camera negative. They encountered problems common in films of this age, including significant dust, scratches, instability, flicker and warping. Most problems were successfully resolved with digital processing via MTI Film’s DRS™ Nova. Persistent problems were overcome through hand restoration. The film’s main title sequence required special attention due to different levels of heat warping in the layers of the underlying graphics.
Re-grading and re-mastering was performed by MTI Film Colorist Alex Chernoff, who took great care to restore the film’s original look. Aging of the negative had distorted the red channel, giving the entire film a pinkish cast. “Alex did a marvelous job in re-balancing the color without muting detail,” says O’Donnell. “The costumes and make-up were state-of-the-art for the day and look beautiful in the new master.”
Restoration continued through the re-mastering phase as additional flaws were revealed via the grading process. “We processed some elements several times until we nailed it,” says O’Donnell. “It got to be very good; we are thrilled with the results.”