VENICE, Italy — The hotly anticipated 3D version of the 1983 game-changing “Thriller” short directed by John Landis world-premiered Monday at the Venice Film Festival where Landis and Michael Jackson estate co-executor John Branca said it is a preamble to bigger announcements regarding Jackson legacy projects to be unveiled soon.
“Now we have ‘Thriller’ 3-D and two more announcements are coming up in the next couple of weeks,” Branca said in an interview, declining to elaborate further.
“Michael had and expression: ‘the quality goes in before the name goes on,’ so we are not ready to announce them yet,” he noted.
Asked if there may be an album of unreleased recordings from the vaults coming Branca said: “I don’t forsee us releasing any more unreleased music for quite some time.” But he added: “That doesn’t mean there won’t be interesting [new] record releases in the very near future.”
Landis recalled that one of the most surreal things about making “Thriller” were Jackson’s friends.
“He introduced me to Spanky Mc Farland [of “The Little Rascals”] and to Marlon Brando,” Landis said.
He went on to recall the most surprising encounter he made on the ‘Thriller’ shoot:
“We were shooting the cemetery scene in a meat packing plant in a bad part of L.A….Mike asked to see me so I stepped up to his Winnebago, I knocked, and he said: ‘John: do you know Mrs. Onassis?” I was, like: what? It was just the last person I expected!,” he noted.
About the 3-D conversion Landis said at first he thought it would just be a gimmick and was keen about the project primarily because it would allow the negative to be restored. But in the process of doing the conversion he realised that 3-D “really enhances it, especially the dance [aspect].” The short has not been re-edited or re-cut, but the sound has been enhanced.
How and when the 3-D “Thriller” short will be released is still being kept under wraps, however Landis assured that it would be a “cinematic experience.”
The original 14-minute short redefined the traditional music video when it opened at the Avco Theatre in Los Angeles in 1983 for a sold-out three-week run.
The Venice world premiere of “Thriller” in 3-D is being accompanied by a restored version of Jerry Kramer-directed “Making of Michael Jackson’s Thriller” documentary, shown in a theatre for the first time.
Currently plans for the reissue of this powerful piece, which includes Jackson family home movies, are also being kept under wraps.