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Flash Gordon Back From the Future for 40th Anniversary

It’s probably been a while since you’ve seen Flash Gordon in action, and in fact, half our audience is young enough they weren’t even born when the original Flash Gordon film was released in 1980.

But thanks to some big plans for the cult sci fi hero, you’re likely to see a lot more Flash in the near future.

King Features is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Flash Gordon film with a wide slate of new screenings and related products that started this month. It kicked off with Universal Pictures and Fathom Events presenting theatrical screenings in over 330 theatres across the US on Nov. 15 and 16.  The theatrical events included an on-screen introduction to the film by actor Sam Jones, who played Flash Gordon, as well as the world premieres of a new Flash Gordon comic strip series, Flash Forward, and the first-ever motion comic strip series for the brand.

“Flash Gordon’s comic adventures have influenced how we define the modern science fiction genre, but the 1980 film is what really solidified the comic star as a lasting pop-culture icon,” said Carla Silva, vice president and general manager, global head of licensing for King Features. “We are thrilled to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the film this year with such a strong lineup of partners from across the globe. It’s our mission to continue bringing fans new Flash Gordon products and experiences that showcase their love for the savior of the universe.”

The aging sci fi classic was brought back to 4K Ultra-High definition life by STUDIOCANAL, Europe’s leader in production, distribution and international sales of feature films and TV series, and it was later played at Picturehouse Central, The Luna Drive In Cinema and other select U.K. cinemas with additional screenings across France, Germany, Australia and New Zealand throughout the year.

STUDIOCANAL’s 40th Anniversary 4K restoration of Flash Gordon was scanned from the original 35mm negative to produce 4K files. Over 500 hours of manual restoration repaired serious damage that included image instability, scratches and intermittent flicker. The sound was scanned from the original track negative and underwent restoration to improve issues ranging from audio dropouts throughout the feature and during reel changes, digital clicks and optical distortion. The restoration was later approved by director Mike Hodges in May 2020 and includes the first 4K HDR Dolby Vision master of Flash Gordon.

But the bigger reveal for Flash is the new comic book Flash Forward, an anthology project that features 40 world-renowned artists and illustrators (one for each year), each telling the story of Flash Gordon through their own unique lens.

The list of artists includes Tana Ford (LaGuardia, Livewire, Black Panther), Jim Keefe (Flash Gordon, Sally Forth), Liniers (Macanudo), June Brigman (Mary Worth, Supergirl, The Power Pack), Pia Guerra (Y: The Last Man and political cartoons), Sina Grace (Iceman, The Walking Dead, Ghosted in L.A.), Mx Struble (Getting it Together), Joanne Starer (Marvel Knights), Khary Randolph(MosaicBlackExcellence), Erica Henderson (The Unbeatable Squirrel GirlJugheadDracula,Motherf***er), Denis Kitchen (Masterful Marks, The Oddly Compelling Art of Denis Kitchen) and many others.

The comic book will be combined with what King Features calls ‘Motion Comic Shorts Series’, called Flash Gordon: A Minute to Save the World. The series is a new twist on classic comic storytelling uses a fresh animation style to follow Flash Gordon’s battle to save earth from Ming the Merciless. The motion comic series is produced by King Features and drawn by David Reddick and will be available to watch on the Comics Kingdom YouTube Channel beginning Sunday, Nov. 15.

The launch of this new entertainment line will, of course, be followed up with what King Features calls, “A robust lineup of Flash Gordon inspired merchandise and licensed products,” including board games, toys, collectible figures, artwork, and even a book about the making of the movie, titled, Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film, on Dec. 1.

For those who miss the theatrical release, the original, remastered Flash Gordon film will be released on DVD, Blu-ray and Steelbook in the UK, Germany and Australia, while a commemorative Blu-ray version is being released in the US and Canada.

But all of this could be seen as a buildup to the main event, as King Features is working with Oscar-winning director Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok, Jojo Rabbit) on a new Flash Gordon feature film.

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