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Ghostbusters 1 & 2 Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD & Blu-Ray SteelBook 2019 Review

 By Paul Rudoff on Jul. 2, 2019 at 8:53 PM , Categories: Ghostbusters 1, Ghostbusters 2, Home Video
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June 11th saw the release of the Ghostbusters 1 & 2 Limited Edition 4K Ultra HD & Blu-Ray SteelBook from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. Let's take a closer look at the set...

The first impression you get of the set is from the packaging, so I'll start there. There's a 35th Anniversary logo sticker on the outer shrink wrap that, likely, won't appear on future copies released after 2020. Under the shrink wrap is a SteelBook case with a paper wrap rubber-cemented to the back that goes over the top of the case. It's this paper that provides the 4K Ultra HD logo, disc list, top credits, and movie title on the front. Once you take it off, you're left with the case proper, which looks like this.

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A lot of people have complained about the altered No Ghost logo, who is holding up one finger for the first movie and two fingers for the second movie. This logo, which first appeared in the 2014 two-movie Blu-ray set, doesn't bother me that much, but I don't particularly care for it, either. You'll notice that the logo is placed on a black background surrounded by a thick red border. That design is meant to invoke the original home video releases of the first movie back in 1985. With that in mind, my chosen design for the front cover would have been this mock-up I just did (click it for an enlargement):

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(click to enlarge)

The back cover could have still been the same photo of the four guys (one of my favorite photos), or it could have been the second movie's peace-loving logo; with the cast photo being used inside instead. And what does it look like inside the case? Well, it looks like this:

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The three Blu-ray discs are stacked on top of each other on the left, and the two 4K discs are stacked on top of each other on the right. Oy, Vey!

When it was announced back in April that the five-disc set would be released in a SteelBook case, my first thought was, "Oh, no!"   I'm gonna sound like a hypocrite for saying this, because I have one to two dozen of them, but I HATE SteelBook cases. I was actually happy when TimeLife made the switch to standard plastic cases for The Real Ghostbusters DVD set back in 2010. I even did a comparison in which the new plastic case was the clear winner because the SteelBook didn't score a single point! Why do I hate the SteelBook cases so much? I go over it in detail in that comparison, so I'll just short list it here.

1. The colors on a Steelbook case are dull and lifeless, whereas the colors on a paper case liner are bright and vivid. I do have some "glossy" metal DVD cases (not sure if they're officially "SteelBook") that look nice, but this Ghostbusters 1 & 2 set (and The Real Ghostbusters set) use official SteelBook cases which have a matte-like finish.

2. I have never seen a single Steelbook case with multiple discs inside where the discs are placed on their own pages, like you frequently see in plastic cases. The discs are either overlapped (as in The Real Ghostbusters) or they are stacked on top of each other (as in this Ghostbusters 1 & 2 set). I don't know of anyone who likes to remove discs in order to get to other discs.

3. The disc locking mechanism (the part of the case that holds the discs in place) in a Steelbook case has absolutely no give, and upon repeated use will cause the inner ring of a disc to crack. That's not to say that you won't find plastic cases with this problem, too. The big difference is that there are a wide variety of plastic cases being manufactured by different companies. If you have a case with a disc locking mechanism you don't like, you could find another same-sized case with a (hopefully) better disc locking mechanism. You can't do that with a SteelBook case, and that's because...

4. SteelBook cases can not be easily replaced. If your case breaks, you're screwed. You'll have to buy a new copy of the set, or see if Sony will be kind enough to send you a replacement. A plastic case, on the other hand, can be easily replaced with a standard-size, five-disc case (either black for 4K or blue for Blu-ray) with each disc on its own page.

Thankfully, for me at least, after taking these discs out to photograph them for the site and rip the video content to my external hard drive of backed-up Ghostbusters disc content, I never have to touch them again. They'll remain in the case, in storage with all of my other Ghostbusters discs. Unfortunately, for most of you, backing-up the video content off the discs is not a possibility. In that case, I suggest you buy a 5-disc Blu-ray case from Amazon. There's a 5-pack of Elite-brand cases and a 10-pack of cheaper-made AcePlus cases. Yes, I know that you only need one case, but it doesn't hurt to have spares.

Now let's move on to the actual disc contents...

I'm not going to go over every thing in the set, as I already have it completely detailed here on Spook Central. That page also includes a full breakdown of the disc contents. In this review, I will just cover the new and re-added materials. In the interest of full disclosure, I need to state that I consulted with Sony on the bonus features included in the set. I'm quite positive that some of the new items are here because they were on the list I provided to Sony of things to look for. You will see/hear my name, Paul Rudoff, in two places: In a "special thanks" credit at the end of the Nobel Prize Aspirations deleted scene, which I provided; and at the end of the new Ghostbusters Fan Commentary track.

The first two discs are the 4K UHD discs, which are 100% the same as the discs released individually in 2016. They do not contain any new bonus features. They really don't contain any bonus features at all. The first film has the 1999 commentary with Ivan Reitman, Harold Ramis, and Joe Medjuck, and that's it. Both discs contain four "Moments" montages of clips from each film, which is pretty pointless. Each disc contains the same "Cast & Crew" section featuring several still images of the filmmakers and actors. I guess that's something special since it's not on any of the Blu-ray discs, but it's not exactly jump out of your seat exciting either.

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The three Blu-ray discs is what will be of interest to all of you. This is where the new material comes into play. The third disc in the set is Ghostbusters, which uses the same film transfer as the 2014 Blu-ray, though the original stereo audio has been added as a DTS-HS Master Audio track. The only bonus features that are found on both movie Blu-ray discs are those that run along the movie. Everything else has been moved to the fifth disc. Because of this, I sincerely hope that Sony doesn't plan to release the two movie discs separately, or else customers will lose out on SO many bonus features. They should stick with the 2014 discs for separate release, and keep these three together (with or without the 4K discs). So, on the Ghostbusters disc you will find that old 1999 DVD audio commentary, along with the Slimer Mode picture-in-picture and pop-up trivia track that premiered on the 2009 Blu-ray. After a 20 year absence, the Tricks & Trivia subtitled text trivia track has returned.

Finally, in terms of completely brand-new material, there's a new audio commentary with fans Troy Benjamin, Chris Stewart, Ashley Victoria Robinson, and Sean Bishop; moderated by Eric Reich. This track feels like you're hanging out with a group of knowledgeable friends. Chris (whom the English subtitles refer to as "Charlie" at 1:16:30) and Troy even do some MST3K-like riffs with the movie a few times. They point out the recently-discovered Bill Walton appearance as an extra at the end, but fail to mention who he is. Nerds like us will not be likely to know that he's an old basketball player who was later a coach. They don't mention Ron Jeremy's appearance as an extra, even though it was Chris who revealed that information on Proton Charging 15 years or so ago. I e-mailed Chris and Troy to see if they were told not to point him out because he is known for porn, and neither said that they were told that. It's just something that never got mentioned. I am happy to see that the English subtitles spell my name right (YAY!) when everyone is thanking the other fans at the end. There are two things that will date this track in the future: The use of the phrase "on fleek" and the mention of "next year" being 2020 for the new film. This is like when Ivan, Joe, Harold mentioned "upcoming Millennium parties" in their 1999 commentary track.

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Disc 4 is Ghostbusters II, which uses the same film transfer as the 2014 Blu-ray, though the original stereo audio has been added as a DTS-HS Master Audio track. I'm saddened that a new transfer was not struck to fix the darkness issue with all of the pink slime effects scenes. The only bonus feature on the disc is a new audio commentary with Forgetful Ivan Reitman, Captain Obvious Joe Medjuck, and Laughing Dan Aykroyd. This track was a chore to sit through. I hope you like the sound of Dan (and Joe?) laughing because that's the majority of what you'll hear him say. It's 50% movie audio, 30% laugh track, and 20% talking. We should have gotten this commentary track 20 years ago when Ivan, Joe, and Harold did one for the first film. I'm positive that it would have been a much better track as the participants would have only been 10 years removed from making the film. Ivan would have remembered that Ghostbusters II came out four years BEFORE Dave, and that Bobby Brown is not M.C. Hammer.

There are no revelations to speak of. Joe points out Ivan's cameo in the film, which would have been a revelation had I not discovered it on my own 10 years ago. Dan didn't even point out Peter Mosen's appearance in the film, though Judy Orvitz, who appears in the same scene, got a shout out. What I find weird about that is that Dan gave Peter an out-of-the-blue shout-out when the casts of Ghostbusters and Answer The Call appeared on The Jimmy Kimmel Show in June 2016, but didn't do it here for posterity. At least Peter was thanked at the end of the Ghostbusters fan commentary track. Ivan points out his beautiful daughter Catherine (the girl with the puppy) and mentions that she has a hit TV show. Since they failed to state what it is, I'll tell you that he's referring to the Canadian series Workin' Moms, which premiered in 2017. Of course, her brother Jason is also discussed, with the mention of the 2020 film being a passing of the torch from one generation to the next.

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And now I get to Disc 5, the Special Features bonus disc. This disc is broken up into three sections: Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and The Real Ghostbusters. Everything has full subtitle support, except for the trailers (which are missing English) and the music videos (which have none).

The first thing you'll find in the GHOSTBUSTERS section is "Scene Cemetery", which are the deleted scenes. The first seven are new ones (in 16:9 widescreen, 1920x1080 HD), the last ten are from the 1999 DVD and are presented in their original 4:3 letterbox 720x480 SD format (which will be windowboxed when viewed on a HDTV). The new deleted scenes are as follows:

Ecto-1 Parking Ticket (0:21) - The supernatural abilities of the Ectomobile reveal themselves when it burns up a parking ticket a policeman placed on its windshield.
Pulling Up To Fort Detmerring (0:42) - Ray and Winston arrive at Fort Detmerring in the Ecto-1.
The Fort Detmerring Ghost (1:37) - Inside the fort, Ray falls asleep in a display, only to awaken to an erotic encounter with a dreamy ghost.
Louis Encounters Woman (0:33) - Possessed Louis may have found the Gatekeeper in the form of a prostitute on the New York City streets.
Louis Encounters Muggers (0:24) - While in Central Park, possessed Louis comes across some muggers in a tunnel.
Central Park Bums Raw Takes (5:05) - Raw takes from this deleted scene.
Nobel Prize Aspirations (0:31) - While going back to their lab on the university campus, the guys discuss the possibility of winning a Nobel Prize for their work.

If you recognize some of these scene names, it's because the team at Sony used my deleted scene names/titles as the official names for some of the new scenes. Yes, we finally get the Fort Detmerring scenes...or most of them anyway. "Pulling Up To Fort Detmerring" is missing the part where Ray and Winston talk to a guard after they get out of the car. "Louis Encounters Muggers" has an obvious missing portion when it jumps from Louis standing at the mouth of the tunnel to the mugger saying, "You want me to stick you?". My source at Sony says: "The new deleted scenes were found on a reel of footage, as you probably know, so what's presented here is what was assembled from the footage on that reel. The footage was quite random in some cases, so best efforts were made to reconstruct." I didn't know that the deleted scene footage wasn't even in the proper order on the film reels, though that explains some mis-ordered footage in the Ghostbusters II deleted scenes from the 2014 Blu-ray. Hopefully the missing bits aren't lost for good. I guess we have something to look forward to in five years for the inevitable 40th anniversary release :-)

"Nobel Prize Aspirations" was provided by me from a DVD-R Raffaele made back in 2006 of the Criterion Collection laserdisc exclusive material. That's why Raffaele and I are credited at the end. If they keep that credit on all future releases, I'll have permanently left my mark on Ghostbusters :-) Sony put it in widescreen, which is nice, but they upscaled it to 1920x1080. I believe that's why my ripped back-up file plays slowly and goes off sync, which it doesn't do on-disc.

Next in the menu is the Ghostbusters TV Commercial and five minutes of outtakes from the shoot. This is the complete in-movie commercial, which was originally exclusive to the PlayStation 3 version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game. So, now everyone can enjoy this in full HD. For some reason, the last 10 seconds of the outtakes stops on a still frame, which makes it looks like a disc read error. It's not, thankfully.

The 1984 ShoWest Exhibitor Reel features Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd pitching an early reel of footage to theatrical exhibitors. All of the film clips are extremely dark, but it's interesting to see these scenes with different or no music and no special effects. Some are very slightly different from the final film. When interviewing the librarian, after Ray expresses his enthusiasm ("I can't wait to get a look at this thing"), he exchanges a look with Peter that is not in the final film. When doing the Twinkie analogy, Egon says "PKE sample" instead of just "sample".

A Moment With the Stars - Original EPK Featurette is the "selected soundbytes" segment from the Electronic Press Kit. The Photo Galleries sub-section contains the Gallery 1988 Fan Art Poster Gallery of 31 images from the 2014 Blu-ray, the Ghostbusters Garage: Ecto-1 Restoration Photo Gallery (a video gallery from the 2009 Blu-ray), and three galleries taken from the 2005 DVD as evident by the crappy "oil painting" filter applied to them: Storyboards (361 images total) (no script text underneath), Production Photos (288 images total), and Design Concepts (230 images total). While it's nice that they decided to re-add the last three galleries, they used the WRONG source material. That 2005 DVD was a dumpster fire of biblical proportions! Since they took them exactly as they previously existed, they're also tilted, framed, and now there's also no script text under the storyboards (which was present on the 1999 & 2005 DVDs). They should have used the 1999 DVD as the source, though ideally they should have gone back to the original photo negatives and drawings and rescanned them in in high-resolution, then put them on the disc in full 1920x1080 HD, flat and fullscreen, and with NO alterations. If that wasn't bad enough, there are no sub-sections for these re-added galleries, like on the original DVD. They're all just lumped together. Good luck if you want to find images of Slimer or the Library Ghost, as you'll have to page through every image one by one.

Skipping over materials from the previous Blu-rays - 1984 Featurette, SFX Team Featurette, Cast and Crew Featurette, Alternate TV Version Takes, Who You Gonna Call: A Ghostbusters Retrospective, Ecto-1: Resurrecting the Classic Car, Multi-Angle Explorations, Storyboard Comparisons, Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" Music Video - The final subsection is Theatrical Trailers. All of the trailers are of decent or better quality, though do be aware that they are a tad on the soft side and a tad on the dark side. A little color correction should have been done, but I have a feeling they just transferred them as is. I'm not complaining much because they are all in HD widescreen, they used the original footage and didn't replace it with movie footage (like done twice on the 2014 Blu-ray), and all of the end cards ("Coming soon to a theatre near you") are present. Yes, the Teaser Trailer with the unused song is here, as is the Theatrical Trailer with Peter's "chairman" line over the footage of him saying it. The International Teaser Trailer is a cut-down of the theatrical trailer, and the 30th Anniversary Theatrical Trailer is from the 2014 theatrical re-release of the movie. The International Teaser Trailer in widescreen was available through my cable company (Optimum of Long Island) back in November 2016 as the "preview" video for the movie on demand. I grabbed an analog transfer of it, and planned to add it to Spook Central, but never got around to it. I'm glad I never did since the Blu-ray is much better :-)

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The GHOSTBUSTERS II section starts with The Oprah Winfrey Show: Cast of Ghostbusters II - June 1989, in which Bill, Dan, Harold, Ernie, Sigourney, and Annie sit down and chat with the talk show maven and her audience. This episode aired a few days before the June 16th premiere of the film, though we still don't have an exact airdate because none is provided here. It would have been nice if Oprah's company, Harpo, could have helped us clear that up once and for all. The video quality is excellent, audio quality is decent but doesn't quite sound as good as I think it should be. (It sounded a tiny bit "tinny" to me.) There are four chapter marks, but not in places that make sense - such as the commercial breaks.

This is one of the two things in this set that I was hoping would have been 100% complete (so I could get rid of an old VHS copy), but unfortunately it's not. Two parts have been edited out. At 15:03, omitted is a woman in the audience asking Bill to do his Saturday Night Live nightclub singer act. He obliges by singing his own lyrics to the M*A*S*H* theme. I presume that this was cut out due to music licensing. (On the video I have on the Oprah episode page, the missing portion is from 14:52 to 15:32.) At 22:53, omitted is a woman in the audience telling Ernie that he's her brother. Perhaps this was edited out because she really isn't his sister. (On the video I have on the Oprah episode page, the missing portion is from 23:16 to 23:43.) At the end of the credits, the entire screen of information on how to obtain a transcript has been blurred out. I understand the "need" for a blur (since transcripts are no longer available), but couldn't they have just blurred the address and phone number? There was no need to blur out the entire screen of text.

The Ghostbusters II Theatrical EPK is the other thing I was hoping would have been 100% complete, but unfortunately it's not. It's just segments 3 through 9 of the full Electronic Press Kit. Missing are the first three segments: Table of Contents, Trailer, and Film Clips; plus the "title card" for the featurette; and the PPV Trailer at the end. While I assume they left the first three items out because it could be seen as "duplicated material", I really wish that they didn't. I don't think anyone would complain if there was a second copy of the trailer on the disc and some 4:3 fullscreen film clips. I think most Ghostheads would have wanted the EPK "complete"; and the film clips would bring back memories of watching the film on VHS those many decades ago :-) I see no reason for leaving out the PPV Trailer.

There are four randomly-placed chapters (almost every 10 minutes), when there should have been one chapter at the start of each segment. The original EPK VHS has split audio: Production Audio on the left channel and the narrator on the right channel (or vice versa). This was the only way they could do "multiple audio tracks" back in 1989, so press outlets could use the audio track they needed. When the fan copy was passed around, I worked with someone to create three distinct audio tracks: Production Audio, Narrator, and both joined together in true stereo. Obviously, they didn't do the same for the EPK on the Blu-ray, though they did join the two separated tracks into a combined true stereo track, which is track #1 on the fan copy.

Skipping over materials from the previous Blu-ray - Scene Cemetery (7 deleted scenes), Time Is But A Window: Ghostbusters II and Beyond, Bobby Brown's "On Our Own" Music Video - The final subsection is Theatrical Trailers. All of the trailers are of decent or better quality, though do be aware that they are a tad on the soft side and a tad on the dark side (especially the Ghostbusters II International Trailer, which has a black haze over it). A little color correction should have been done, but I have a feeling they just transferred them as is. I'm not complaining much because they are all in HD widescreen, they used the original footage and didn't replace it with movie footage (like done twice on the 2014 Blu-ray), and all of the end cards ("Coming soon to a theatre near you") are present. Included in this section is the Theatrical Teaser Trailer, Theatrical Trailer, International Theatrical Trailer (this was the fake "Trailer #2" on the 2014 Blu-ray) and the Unfinished Teaser Trailer. The Unfinished Teaser Trailer features the full Ghostbusters' in-movie commercial in 2.40:1 aspect ratio, though the Cosmopolitan magazine that Janine holds has its cover photo blurred. This trailer is "unfinished" in that the shot of the guys zapping the Scoleri Brothers in the courtroom is missing the proton stream effects. The in-movie commercial might just be the best thing I've ever seen. It's certainly the best thing on these discs, and that's saying something! The acting is so intentionally bad that I can't help but to laugh every time. Seeing Egon get bopped in the head by the fake ghost, and then later mouthing along with someone else's line, makes him the standout. It makes me miss Harold Ramis.

Finally - yes, we're in the home stretch now - is THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS section, which contains just one thing: The Real Ghostbusters - Pitch Concept Pilot - A Fan Restoration by Robert Barbieri. This is a restored version of the original pilot that first appeared from a VHS transfer on the bonus disc in the Time-Life Complete Series DVD set. The Pilot is in full 1920x1080 HD, restored from a film transfer, and it looks great (a VAST improvement over the VHS copy), even though it flickers in spots. I think the flickering is due to successive frames having different levels of grain and different qualities. Sadly, this Pilot is the only thing from the series that we'll ever see in HD, since the episode film masters were destroyed and the remaining tape masters are not suitable for HD. The Pilot ends with a card that reads, "A Fan Restoration by Robert Barbieri". Hey, his credit text is much bigger than mine! :-)

Included loose inside the case is a Movie Anywhere digital copy code voucher that gives the 4K versions of both movies together.

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In conclusion, I have mixed feelings on this release. On one hand, not since 20 years ago have we gotten such a feature-rich release of the movies (and only the first film got some true love back in 1999). The teams who worked on the 2005 - 2014 releases simply didn't care all that much. They never bothered to reach out to the fans, like this team did, to see what should be included. The team who worked on the 2014 Blu-ray thought it would be wise to make "fake trailers" because they *had* to be in HD and look like the restored movie, even though some of the trailer footage was not used in the movie - so it wasn't available in restored HD. The team working on this new release not only contacted me for lists of stuff to find, but also got a deleted scene from me, AND made sure the trailers were sourced from the originals and not edited from the movie footage set to the original trailer audio. Yes, some of the trailers don't look as sharp as the restored movie, but I wouldn't expect - or want - them to. That slightly less than perfect picture quality adds to the charm of a vintage trailer.

On the other hand, they didn't include the *entire* Ghostbusters II Electronic Press Kit, parts of two deleted scenes are missing (which is not the team's fault), and there's still a LOT of material from the Criterion laserdisc that is missing in action. Although they restored the 1999 still images, they took them from the 2005 DVD, which has an Oil Painting filter over them, so I'd consider the originals "missing" (which also includes the script excerpts under the storyboards). So, yeah, there was a lot on here that they should have done differently...that *I* would have done differently! On top of all of that, new material has been found since the discs went to press back in April - such as all of the deleted and alternate scenes shown at Ghostbusters Fan Fest. There's definitely room for improvement and additions in five years when they do the next set.

The set can be purchased at Amazon U.S., Amazon Canada, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Italy, and a set WITHOUT THE 4K DISCS can be bought at Amazon Japan. I am not aware of any other countries selling it, but the set is coded for all regions, so importing shouldn't be a problem. Some of the packaging and promotional materials from the various countries can be found on the Spook Central Facebook page.

This item was provided by Sony for review on this site.

4 comments

Comment from: Jason A. Matthews [Visitor]

Hey, Paul! Thanks for the review, I actually loved it. I have the Steelbook, and it IS amazing! To me, the best parts for the bonus disc, besides the the trailers and the Ray Parker Jr. "Ghostbusters" Music Video are:

The 1984 ShoWest Exhibition Reel for GB1
The Unfinished GB2 Teaser Trailer
RGB Pitch Pilot Fan Remaster

And that's all. Thanks, BTW. :D

Jul. 3, 2019 @ 18:46
Comment from: Gianni Belotti [Visitor]

When I first got it from Amazon, the case was pretty effed up. Luckily we were able to tell Amazon about the damage and they sent a replacement with MUCH better condition. Had to give away the spare digital code and sell my old GB1/GB2 Blu-rays though.

Anyway, this was my most anticipated Ghostbusters release ever since the concept of the GB2 Blu-ray. Speaking of GB2, the unfinished teaser is awesome. I didn't really know what counted as unfinished outside of the courtroom footage having no proton streams. Also, someone could use the actual November 1988 Cosmopolitan cover to fix the blurred version via editing.

It is REALLY worth seeing the promo pilot in restored condition AND watchable on some form. Also I gotta give props for the ShoWest GB1 footage for the fact that it's interesting to compare the movie's earlier state to the final. So of course, odd lighting and B&W shots are expected. GOD I LOVE THAT PROTOTYPE PROTON PACK NOISE! Yes, the start-up sound's in the VFX comparison of the initial Slimer encounter, but the prototype beam sound is also cool! (I do remember hearing that beam sound during the crossing-the-streams scene but I still want a lossless copy) Lots of obvious noise reduction though.

Jul. 4, 2019 @ 20:48
Comment from: NJ [Visitor]

Would you know if the new bonus features will appear on a digital steaming site, like Movies Anywhere, iTunes, or Vudu? I already bought the Digibook last year, and without a 4K home theater, I have no incentive to upgrade the movies to 4K yet.

Also, while you've never found a Steelbook with enough "pages" to carry multiple discs without stacking, Target's 2015 Steelbook for the "Back to the Future" Trilogy has enough "pages" to safely hold four discs.

Jul. 15, 2019 @ 09:13
Comment from: [Member]

Hi NJ

Unfortunately, I don't know if the new bonus features will appear on any digital steaming sites. I would suspect "no", as Sony probably isn't imnterested in updating the movie content there.

Thanks for telling me about the Back to the Future Trilogy steelbook with the page inside to allow four discs without overlap or stacking. I found a photo of it on this site, and I can see that it has a dual-sided page inside. So there's one disc on the inside front cover, one disc on the inside back cover, and a disc on each side of the middle page - thus giving four discs. That's a great way to configure the steelbook. Of course, that wouldn't help for this Ghostbusters set since there's five discs :-(

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-- Paul

Jul. 15, 2019 @ 13:47

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