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Restoration and re-mastering “The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" from 3-strip 35mm negatives

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Dave Strohmaier. With Tom March and participation from Roland Lataille and Harrison Engle Date: 13.10.2020
A restored 4K "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" trailer has recently been shown on the Cinerama screen at the annual Widescreen Weekend Festival in Bradford, UK. This trailer is a 1961 original MGM five-minute pre-release announcement trailer that was reconstructed from 6-perf Cinerama negatives as well as a 7-channel magnetic soundtrack. This brings up the restoration efforts currently underway between Cinerama Inc. and Warner Bros. for the complete digital restoration of the roadshow version of what the original ads stated as ”The first Cinerama film to tell a story.” When this project is completed all the Cinerama 3-panel feature films will have been digitally restored.

Tom H. March and I enthusiastically decided to tackle this project since we were allowed to work out of our home offices as I now live in Eagle, Idaho and Tom lives in Calgary, Canada. This decision was made last November long before Covid-19 came on the scene. Tom and I have worked together on several of the Cinerama travelogues as well as "Windjammer" and two other non-Cinerama features over the past six years. Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging provided the expert scanning of the original 6-perf 3-panel o-negatives and Cinerama Inc. updated my home editing bay with new computers, monitors and appropriate software to accommodate such a 4K restoration.
More in 70mm reading:

Remastering the CINERAMA Library

The Cinerama Archaeologists

"The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" Remaster Trailers

The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm. The legendary “lost” Cinerama Reviewed

Information about the 3-strip movie "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm"

in70mm.com's Cinerama page

"The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" soundtrack released by Film Score Monthly

Liner notes for "The Wonderful World of Brothers Grimm" 2-CD soundtrack

Internet link:

Restored 4K "The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm" shown on the Cinerama at the annual Widescreen Weekend Festival in Bradford, UK. This trailer is a 1961 original MGM five-minute pre-release announcement trailer that was reconstructed from 6-perf Cinerama negatives as well as a 7-channel magnetic soundtrack. Picture by Mark Lyndon

Many have heard in past years that the “Grimm” elements had suffered damage due to some sort of a flood many years ago at MGM and until now there has been an understandable hesitancy to attempt such a digital restoration due to the great expense of dealing with these 3-panel films. Utilizing new amazing software and much faster computers, it is possible to perform restoration miracles in your own home restoration/edit bay. Truth be told, and to my relief, I did not have to follow up with all of my former assumptions about the negative damage. Fortunately, we found the negatives were in somewhat better condition than a 1994 inspection report seemed to indicate, however still problematic with the many damaged and worn areas. Digital restoration can allow a lot of flexibility that photo chemical or earlier digital work could never accomplish.

We can now report that we have repaired all the damaged areas in “Grimm,” including compositing and aligning the 3 panels which now look quite stunning. For those who are very familiar with the 35mm CinemaScope version that has appeared on Turner Classic Movies, this restoration will appear like a completely different film as if it was shot yesterday.
Dave Strohmaier and “Gromit” clean up the last scene (in USA)

We also obtained some IB Technicolor frame clip samples from the Bradford UK print and we feel we can give the final film something very close to the Technicolor look that audiences originally saw back in 1962.

Having done all the former Cinerama 1950s travelogues and dealing with their many grain problems, “Grimm” seems to have an almost grainless look to it now, other than some of the vintage 1961 opticals. Correcting some of the damage required several digital passes, that’s why our original composite assembly master (2K on each panel -aligned and joined together) was therefore in 6K so we could suffer multiple digital passes, however the actual restoration work is being done in 4K for speed and rendering efficiency. As with Warner Bros. "How The West Was Won" digital remastering back in 2008, the legendary Cinerama join lines are practically invisible with “Grimm” as well.

We are remastering the film in both letterbox and SmileBox formats for eventual Blu-ray and DVD release from the Warner Archive Collection sometime later in 2021. FYI all the 1950s travelogues I have done exist in both straight SmileBox, SmileBox with curtains, and Letterbox digital masters. “Grimm” will grace the Cinerama Dome screen in Hollywood sometime next year before the eventual home video release.

Since the project started last November [2019], I have to say it has been a real pleasure working with Cinerama’s Jim Vandever and the Warner Bros. people such as George Feltenstein, Steven Anastasi and Craig Johnson with this project as they are all thrilled as we are to see it finally coming to fruition.
Tom March and his cat “Coco” working on the Cobbler scenes (in Canada)

What remains to be done in the coming months is the restoration and re-mix of the 7-channel sound track, a few rescans and touch ups and then final color grading before the creation of the SmileBox version. A 15 to 20 minute documentary is also being planned about this restoration by award winning documentary filmmaker, Harrison Engle, to include interviews with the team and several before and after shots explaining in layman's terms how the project was accomplished.
"Grimm" project worksheet continuity for Roll-17 - the start of Act-2
Desktop of the Premiere Pro editing system
Scanning o-negs at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging department
Sample damaged Puppetoons section and final result. Image copyright Cinerama Inc. and Warner Bros.
Title card for the new 4K "Brothers Grimm" trailer, shown at Widescreen Weekend on October 11th. Picture by Mark Lyndon  
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Updated 07-01-23