Citizen Kane Gets the Digital Treatment

Warner Home video will bring Citizen Kane to Blu-ray, iTunes, On Demand, Vudu and Amazon Instant Video on Sept. 13. Rosebud has never looked so beautiful.

The Hollywood Reporter makes it clear that this is not the average re-release or even digital restoration; Warner Bros. went back to the source to make the high-definition release look as good as possible.

Janet Wilson, an imaging colorist at Warner Bros. said in a statement, “The source for most of the picture was a 4K scan from a 1941 composite fine grain positive master … The work to re-create the original look of the film and to clean up the effects of aging was a painstaking, frame-by-frame process.”

The film consistently tops historical best-of lists compiled by film historians and the American Film Institute named it the number-one film of all time. Directed by Orson Welles (who also co-wrote and starred in it), the film chronicles the life of Charles Foster Kane, a thinly veiled film a clef for William Randolph Hearst.

It’s telling that Warner Bros. is undertaking such an extensive restoration, while also planning on releasing the film across lower-resolution digital services. This is part of a broader strategy employed by Warner Bros. and the other major home video groups to make catalog and new release titles available on as many platforms as possible, while still reserving Blu-ray for pristine presentation and extra features. is accepting pre-orders for the collector’s edition of Citizen Kane, which will include HBO’s RKO 281, the documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane, and all the extra features from the 60th anniversary DVD release.

Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Video