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Boxed set brings restored Bond series to Blu-ray

Collection includes first BRD release of nine titles

It may have taken six years, but the longest-running film franchise will finally be released on Blu-ray as a complete set this fall, as part of James Bond’s 50th anniversary.

All 22 films in the spy series will be packaged in an anni box set by Twentieth Century Fox and MGM, with discs debuting just before “Skyfall” bows Nov. 9. The set will retail for $199 and include 130 hours of bonus features. Studio will announce further details later this month.

Nine Bond films — “GoldenEye,” “Octopussy,” “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “You Only Live Twice,” “The Living Daylights,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “Diamonds Are Forever,” “A View to a Kill” and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” — were previously unavailable on Blu-ray.

Fox and MGM had wanted to release the entire collection on Blu-ray sooner, but chose to wait for the anniversary, giving time for MGM to emerge from its bankruptcy and subsequent reorganization.

MGM reupped its homevideo distribution pact with Fox last year. Deal runs through 2016. All the titles in the boxed set are expected to be transfers from the 4K restorations made by Lowry Digital. Lowry painstakingly restored each title frame-by-frame for the Ultimate Edition DVDs that were released starting in late 2006.

The studios started promoting the set at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with former Bond directors John Glen (“For Your Eyes Only,” “Octopussy,” “A View to a Kill,” “The Living Daylights” and “License to Kill”), Martin Campbell (“GoldenEye,” “Casino Royale”) and Michael Apted (“The World Is Not Enough”) taking the stage at the Panasonic booth to discuss their experiences giving 007 his orders.

Most of the helmers praised Blu-ray’s visuals, with Glen noting that “there was a resistance to showing (Bond films) on TV at all” because of their quality. “TVs have improved. Now we have Blu-ray. You are seeing the films in all their glory.”

Apted was surprised to land the directing gig for “The World Is Not Enough,” after establishing himself with dramas (“Gorillas in the Mist”) and docs (the “Up” series). “For me (directing a Bond movie) was scary as hell,” he said on the panel. “I thought it was a joke. I had never done anything like this.” A

fter helming one, “it’s exciting to know there are a lot of people who are waiting for your film but scary because there a lot of people ready to rip it apart. … I just knew certain things had to be delivered — the girls, the one-liners, the action. I was very much aware of the heightened expectations. You ignore those things at your own peril.”

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