Movies that need a 4K HDR disc release

Updated 2023-09-09

4K HDR discs are the best way to experience any film at home. They bring four times the resolution, HDR10 with better light contrast levels, and a much larger array of colors. The only downside is those details make it required for studios to take a new scan of the original films and remaster them. So what old films should get the love they need?

And no, streaming doesn’t count.

Stop streaming fake 4K HDR, buy the discs

You don’t own the film when you “purchased” it for streaming. Whereas when you buy the 4K UHD disc you get the physical copy that is all yours, and most of the time a code for digital download anyways for if you’re away from home.

You also cannot stream 4K on most devices, such as computers, laptops, and phones from most providers. Moviesanywhere supports only special TVs (more like moviesnowhere, am I right?). Netflix is better with more TVs and computers but requires Windows / Mac using their worst browsers. VUDU doesn’t even clearly state what it supports but was not 4K on my computer. Amazon completely hides that it just won’t work on Windows even with their custom app, and only smart TVs / firesticks. (Note this info was true as of April 2022, and is not being updated or rechecked)

Also with 4K UHD discs you get full quality (40~80MB/s bitrate), HDR10, and sometimes even dynamic HDR via HDR10+ or Dolby Vision. With streaming you’re lucky if you can actually get it even in real HDR10. And no matter what, you are getting laughably worse quality film; usually around a fifth of the bitrate, around 8~16MB/s.

Buying the discs also helps show support that people still want physical media, which is important when moving into a world that is drifting as far away from the right to own as possible.

What makes a good candidate for 4K HDR?

First and foremost, the original film still has to exist. There are plenty of films that sadly are missing or deteriorated past restoration. Some also claim that scanning anything less than 35mm film is pointless. Which is true from a pure resolution standpoint, but they can still benefit from HDR. Barring the requirement for entry, the best reasons to upgrade to 4K are pretty straightforward:

  • High contrast
  • Fine details
  • Bright colors
  • Minimal CGI to upscale
  • Content

The two biggest improvements 4K HDR film brings are literally their descriptors. Firstly, HDR means High Dynamic Range which increases the highest possibly fidelity between bright and dark areas on the screen. This can help across all films, from intense outdoor action scenes to serious dramas and noir films. Sadly can’t show a “true” example of this due to limited support for HDR images at the moment (until more browsers support AVIF images, and consumer hardware can actually display it).

Second is the actual quality. Up until this generation, resolutions were measured with how many lines of pixels there were vertically. VHS on cathode ray tube TVs would show 480 lines, DVDs had 720 lines, and Blu-ray has 1080. 4K has 2160 vertical lines, but instead of calling it that, they decided to use the horizontal lines (near 4K but actually 3840 for cinema.) It just so happens that by doubling the vertical lines, you have four times as much resolution (aka you can fit four 1080 screens into one 4K screen). So 4K is a subtle nod to 4x the quality.

Visual representation using the original photo as “4K” and downgrading the others by the degradation amount by the ratio listed

Thirdly, colors get a boost thanks to HDR’s need for higher bit-depth, we also get a larger color space with more blending as well.

Forth is how much CGI is in the film. The more there is, the poorer the up-scaling will be. Decades old CGI can be remastered, but it takes a lot of time and funding. A studio is much more likely to simply clean and re-scan old film than they are to bother fully re-mastering anything but true blockbusters.

Lastly, the actual content of the film. If a film is selling 0 copies in DVD or Blu-ray it will probably sell 0 copies on UHD disc as well. It also won’t do much good to increase early Star Treks of William Shatner fighting a man in a lizard suit surrounded by cardboard and styrofoam. However this is not as important as the others, because it’s always good to show support to historically important films even if they don’t have clear visual benefits.

Now without further ado, lets get into those films we want to see in enhanced visual glory!

The List – Movies that need a UHD HDR disc release

Listed alphabetically, no emphasis on one over another for which should be first.

Airplane!

I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley

Considered one of the funniest movies of all time, Airplane! deserves our love. They crazy thing is, paramount studio already did a 4K re-scan of it and released it only on Blu-Ray! Which means you get minimal benefits of the re-scan, which is just stupid. Most of the film itself takes place inside the cock-pit and could really use HDR to help see the details better. Where’s my 4K HDR disc paramount?

Clue

Six murders. This is getting serious.

If you don’t have a clue what this movie is about, you might be too young for this list. The wacky and wonderful house of misfortune and mystery is a barrel of laughs for all ages.

With the absurdity of Tim Curry, quirkiness of Christopher Lloyd and quick wit of Madeline Kahn paired with a host of other excellent actors it’s no wonder it works so well. One of the few films I could put on repeat for multiple loops.

It’s a dark house with what feels like detail lost due to the film grain, I would love a 4K HDR rendition of it.

Charlie Wilson’s War

We gotta shoot down the helicopters

A more somber film, Charlie Wilson’s War highlights some of the struggles at the end of the cold war. When the worst politician decides to care about something other than himself, everyone is surprised with how much success he could accomplish.

The film almost had the right ending (spoilers in the link) but it probably wouldn’t have been received as well at the box office.

This one I’m interested in the quality bump as well as saving the content for future generations. It’s not often you get a story that close to the truth on the silver screen and able to make it enjoyable.

Down Periscope

Maybe we should pull in, so you can put out

The funniest movie about a submarine crew you’ll ever see. The gags and situational comedy that Down Periscope pulls off in rapid secession will have you rolling with laughter the entire film. The movie revolves around a war game where a “renegade diesel” submarine tries to sneak past all the big boy nuclear ships without detection. With a little duck tape, can do attitude, and thinking way out side the box, it might just be possible.

This film hasn’t even made it to Blu-ray for some horrid reason. The execs who are holding back on this gem should be made to walk the plank! The dark interior of the sub needs that HDR, and the quality jump from 720p to 4K would be incredible.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Sir Galahad the Chaste

I can only imagine there is a lone exec out there saying “Ni!” every time someone asks about making this classic into 4K. There are a lot of scenes that could benefit from HDR, then others that have vivid and varying colors waiting to pop into the larger color space.

Ocean’s Eleven

It’s not going to be easy (or totally logical)

Eleven men, two goals, and one wrong move could ruin the entire heist. Just don’t mind the plot hole around some sex pamphlets and it’s a solid plan. Ocean’s 11 has to be my most re-watched movie. It’s great to watch or just put on in the background due to it’s excellent music choices. Honestly probably the weakest of this list for a “need” to make it 4K, just would be nice.

Robin Hood: Men In Tights

That’ll be the last of us

For me it’s a toss up between Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Young Frankenstein (also in this list) as the funniest Mel Brooks movie ever made. Sure, Blazing Saddles started it all, but I think Robin Hood: Men in Tights was a true swan song for Mel.

Take all the good and all the bad of all the Robin hood movies, put them together and you get an amazing film. It’s the only movie that I know of that breaks the fourth wall without “taking me out of it.”

Scooby-Doo and the Witch’s Ghost / Zombie Island

I’m gonna put a spell on yooooou

The two best Scooby-Doo movies (according to me) really need some UHD love. They have really dark scenes, lots of bright color and could really use a quality upgrade (do they call it re-draw instead of re-scan for animation?) Zombie Island is the better film all around, but I think two words can sell the Witch’s Ghost for most people: Hex Girls.

Shanghai Noon

 I’m closer to diggin’ myself to China than you are to gettin’ to Carson City

Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson in a spaghetti western, all I can say is “wow”, how has this not been made 4K yet?

Don’t forget to throw Shanghai Knights into that pile as well!

The Thomas Crown Affair

The man in the bowler hat

An anti-heist if there ever was one. The Thomas Crown affair is a take on what if a billionaire was bored and wanted to be the opposite of batman. A Joker of art if you will. It’s an art heist worked from both sides, with the antagonist and protagonist sleeping with each other along the way.

I fell like a lot of the scenes can be enhanced with 4K HDR. Everything from the colors of the paintings and outdoor scenes, to the contrasts in the dark scenes, and even just higher resolution for the enjoyment factor.

Young Frankenstein

Sed-a-give!

It’s Franc-en-stien! The (not so) young nephew of Dr. Frankenstein has no interest in the kook of an uncle who brought people back from the dead. However, when he is the sole heir to the estate, he must travel to Transylvania to settle the accounts. After meeting up with an interesting hunched butler and beautiful lab assistant, he can’t help but look into what made his uncle go mad.

The film is entirely black and white, with a lot of film grain that makes it seem as though at least half the quality is lost just from that.

Honorable mentions

The only difference between these and those above, is I don’t have enough energy to grab stills for each and write about them. But should all be upgraded to 4K HDR discs.

  • Blazing Saddles and History of the World Part 1
    • Heck, lets get just a full Mel Brooks 4K collection! Spaceballs is already 4K and awesome!
  • Mr. & Mrs. Smith
  • Sound of Music 
  • Trading Places – Available in November 2023!
    • Again, Paramount, why must you not release your 4k scans on disc?
    • Thanks for listening Paramount!
  • The Maltese Falcon – Now Available!
  • The Mandalorian – Available in December 2023! Season 1, Season 2
    • It’s already in 4K just not on disc, let me give you money Disney!
    • Thanks for listening Disney!

Amazing renditions already available as 4K

There are a lot of great 4K films, but I have personally found these to have benefited from the 4K HDR treatment so I wanted to share. The video names are links to Amazon (with associate code in link if you want to help out the site!), and reviews as marked. No affiliation with any review site, just listing ones I personally trust.

Movies that are great films, but didn’t need the 4K treatment

If you don’t have these already, grab them on 4K disc to show support. But don’t expect a lot of difference over the Blu-rays.

  • Groundhog Day
    • Perfect film. However its the same gray cloudy day every day. Not much color or contrast to worry about.
  • Home Alone
    • Can’t say I noticed anything different from watching the 4K from the blu-ray.
  • The Incredibles
    • They obviously did a lot of work for HDR color grading, but the blu-ray was just so good to start with there wasn’t anything else to eek out of it.

I thought this site was about coding?

It is, I just didn’t have a good topic this month and thought this was better than an April 1st joke post.

Well there are my thoughts, what would you guys pay good money to see come to 4K HDR discs?