The Abyss | James Cameron explains the long delay behind its re-release

The Abyss
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James Cameron has been explaining why The Abyss 4K remaster has taken so long – as it debuts in US cinemas.

In America at least, yesterday was the day that people were able to feast their eyes on a 4K remaster of James Cameron’s 1989 movie, The Abyss.

While no box office flop, The Abyss remains a little bit of an outlier on Cameron’s CV. Technically astounding, it didn’t cut through in the manner 20th Century Fox had hoped on its original release, and indeed, Cameron jumped headfirst into Terminator 2: Judgment Day straight after, sensing he needed a big hit movie and fast.

The Abyss over time has enjoyed one hell of a (deserved) reassessment though, with a director’s cut expanding the feature, and a hugely detailed DVD release at the start of the 2000s.

But after that? Nothing on Blu-ray, one or two occasional moments where the film appeared on streaming, yet the constant promise of a full remastering of the film.

It’s taken years to get to this point, against a general appreciation that a steely perfectionist such as Cameron was never going to do half measures. And in a discussion with IGN, he’s admitted that “it’s a very particular process for me”.

Podcast: The Abyss (1989) and Big (1988)

“It takes about a week of me there all day, supervising the transfer, correcting every shot, every little bit of repositioning and working on every pixel of the image, and I don’t want to just phone that in and I don’t want to have somebody else do it for me”, he told the outlet.

Throw in the fact that he’s been in the midst of Avatar films, and further delays as a result of the pandemic, and time kept ticking on.

He also added, not unreasonably, that the films weren’t about to be deleted, and so he didn’t need to rush. Rather, he’d rather they took the time on both this and the also long-awaited remaster of True Lies, and got the job done properly.

The Abyss is playing in US cinemas only for the minute, and both it and True Lies will be debuting on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray in March 2024. Thus far, only True Lies is available for preorder, and you can find that here.

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