Michael Jackson’s Thriller remains the stuff of music video – nay, global pop culture – legend. Consequently, the short film’s upcoming 35th anniversary will serve as the occasion for theatrical screenings of its remastered IMAX 3D version, which premiered last year to a limited audience at the Venice Film Festival. Fortunately, wider audiences will get to take it in at theaters with director Eli Roth’s first foray into fantasy-horror, The House with a Clock in its Walls.
Indeed, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the late King of Pop’s perpetually impressive music video, will have a one-week domestic theatrical run in IMAX 3D, set to be shown ahead of The House with a Clock in its Walls, starting on September 21 (at IMAX-3D-ready theaters, obviously). It’s an interesting pairing, since just as Thriller saw Michael Jackson take a risky (and exorbitant) plunge with his onscreen transformations, the movie it accompanies will see director Eli Roth showcasing a transformative work of his own, moving away from the flesh-peeling gore of Cabin Fever and the torture-teeming Hostel films to a more family-friendly arena of the horror genre, brandishing big name stars Cate Blanchett and Jack Black.
Of course, the prospect of seeing Thriller on the big screen in IMAX 3D will be a major draw. The video – to reemphasize – was a major pop culture event, and its December 2, 1983 premiere on the then-nascent MTV was a BIG deal. Set to the title track of Michael Jackson’s already year-old and super-successful “Thriller” album, the video was a collaboration between the music industry’s hottest artist and one of the movie industry’s hottest directors at the time, John Landis, who brought his inventive horror repertoire of werewolves and zombies from 1981’s An American Werewolf in London to Jackson’s track, creating an unprecedentedly elaborate synthesis; one that was budgeted at a then-unheard-of $500,000 at a time when many videos were still basic clips of bands playing their songs.
The IMAX 3D remaster of Thriller wasn’t just a few tweaks. It was a process that was extensive, one that was overseen by director John Landis himself. As the press release explains of the technical enhancement process:
The original iconic short film, directed by John Landis and written by Landis and Michael Jackson, was not reedited or recut in any way. Optimum Productions brought Landis in and together they supervised an elaborate and labor-intensive process that began with the original 35mm film negative from Michael’s archives and resulted in a 3D conversion of the acclaimed film using the latest available technology. Additionally, all of the audio, including Michael’s music, Elmer Bernstein’s score and sound effects, were adapted to 5.7, 7.1 and Atmos standards in order to create the highest quality audio experience for in theater viewing.
The House with a Clock in its Walls is set to hit theaters on September 21. If you want to experience the big screen bonus of the remastered version of Michael Jackson’s Thriller ahead of the movie, then you’ll need to find an IMAX 3D screening in the first week of the run.