In 1970, during the 16mm non-theatrical days, the company now known as VCI Entertainment acquired the rights to 48 Universal serials from a company called Serials, Inc., which had acquired them outright from Universal-International several years previously.
Serials, Inc., is long gone, but, as VCI told us, "all their rights to those Universal serials passed on to us. After years of back and forth with Universal, we finally got them to recognize that we are the owners of those serials and they agreed last year to turn over all of their original film material to us. There is a handful of those serials that they don’t have material on, however the majority they do, including some which never had an official home video release."
Tailspin Tommy and the Great Air Mystery (1935) was the first title released from this batch, with The Red Rider (1934) and The Roaring West (1935 to follow in May and The Vanishing Shadow (1934) in June. All are 2K scans from 35mm fine grain film masters.
Next after these will be Bela Lugosi in The Phantom Creeps; watch In The Balcony for a release date.
We have the full list of 48 serials owned by VCI, and they include some of our favorites: Ace Drummond, Adventures of the Flying Cadets, Gang Busters, the Junior G-Men serials, Jungle Jim, Pirate Treasure, the two Secret Agent X-9 and Green Hornet serials, Mystery of the Riverboat, and many others. These will be a MAJOR improvement from any releases so far out there on VHS or DVD.
In addition, VCI is close to signing a deal for nine additional Universal serials from the early '30s that have never had a home video release of any kind. That's hush-hush for now but needless to say, this is VERY exciting news for us cliffhanger fans. See you next week!