Get ready to scream with laughter as director Barry Sonnenfeld’s beloved classic celebrates its 30th anniversary with a newly restored cut. The Addams Family was recently released on Digital 4K Ultra HD for the first time on October 19th. This release features both the Theatrical Version and Extended Cut, plus new bonus content; issued on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray™ and Remastered Blu-ray November 23rd, 2021, via Paramount Home Entertainment.
Newly remastered and restored under the supervision of director Barry Sonnenfeld, The Addams Family will be presented in both the original theatrical version and a never-before-seen “More Mamushka!” version, which expands the memorable dance number. The Digital 4K Ultra HD*, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc, and Blu-ray releases also include a brand-new featurette looking back at the making of the film that includes behind-the-scenes footage and a new interview with Sonnenfeld. There’s also an introduction to the restored cut by Sonnenfeld and an archival featurette. The discs also have access to a digital copy of the film.
When long-lost Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd) reappears after 25 years in the Bermuda Triangle, Gomez (Raul Julia) and Morticia (Anjelica Huston) plan a celebration to wake the dead. But Wednesday (Christina Ricci) barely has time to warm up her electric chair before Thing points out Fester’s uncommonly “normal” behaviour. Could this Fester be a fake and part of an evil scheme to raid the Addams family fortune?
Barry Sonnenfeld took a few minutes to discuss The Addams Family with us earlier this month. Enjoy the audio from the interview included here via SoundCloud.
I’d like to know where you were at as far as shooting; I understand that you ran into some complications with funding, and you were having some problems with getting some of the filming done. I’m curious where you were at with that?
Barry Sonnenfeld: “Yeah, every film has its challenges; the three Men In Black films had their challenges. Get Shorty took six years to get made! So there are always challenges, and the challenges on Addams Family were in part; I hired an incredibly brilliant cinematographer, Owen Roizman, one of the greats! I felt it was important to hire a really great cameraman so that I was forced to be with the actors as opposed to hanging out with the camera crew. Because I’d been familiar with that, so I really needed a great cinematographer. Owen was great, and he did an extraordinary job making Morticia look just unbelievable. Anjelica Houston looked just unbelievable, but he was very slow. Most movies shoot twelve setups a day, and we were getting three. It would take four or five hours to light a shot, but it was perfection. We were very quickly getting behind schedule, and every week we were getting more and more behind schedule, so that was a real issue.
“In addition, our studio, Orion Pictures, was going bankrupt, and the best IP they had, the best thing they had to sell off just to pay their bills was Addams Family. We were sold to Paramount halfway through the film. And the person who bought the film was let go the same day, not because of that, but the new chairman who came in saw the footage and hated our movie, so there was also the issue of shooting half a movie for a studio, where the studio chairman hated it. Everyone else at Paramount loved it; Marketing, distribution, PR; they always felt that they were going to have a hit. But the chairman didn’t like it, so that was a real problem. So those were the issues. And directing is very stressful; you’re answering thousands of questions a week, and each one is important. So I think that’s maybe what you’re talking about?”
It is, yes. Can you recall what brought you to The Addams Family in the first place? Was it something that was pitched to you?
“Yes, I was a successful cinematographer; I had shot the first three Coen Brothers movies, Throw Momma From The Train, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Big, When Harry Met Sally, Misery… And the producer of Addams Family went to Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton, and they both passed. And the producer, instead of going with a typical comedy director, felt it was really important that Addams Family have a visual style. And I was one of the few cameramen who could shoot comedies but still give them a visual style, as opposed to lighting it flat and shooting everything in close-up. You look at my work in Throw Momma From The Train, Raising Arizona, or Blood Simple; they’re all very visually impressive movies.
“So, Scott (Rudin), even though I hadn’t directed before, felt once he couldn’t get Terry or Tim to take a chance with a first-time director because he knew my work. He had been the president of the production at Fox when I shot both Big and Raising Arizona, so he knew my contribution went beyond a typical DP contribution. So he sent the script, I met him, I told him that the script wasn’t good, that it wasn’t faithful to the Charles Adams cartoon, that it was too ‘jokey,’ that there were too many ‘banana peel’ jokes, as opposed to visual jokes. And he said, Well, for all those reasons you’re the right guy; you know Charles Addams. And if I can get you hired, are you willing to be the director? And I said, Yes, sure, if you can get me hired to direct Addams Family, I’ll direct it. But I never thought we would, and Orion hired me.”
Did you feel like you tried to emulate Gilliam and Burton in any way, knowing that they were the first two directors approached?
“No, not at all. I did try to emulate the Charles Addams tone and drawing, and there’s specific moments in our movie where they’re literally taken from some of Charles Addams’ cartoons, like me inside Gomez’s train set. There’s a shot where Gomez is playing with his trains, and then you see there is actually a passenger in his HO Gauge train set that was an actual image of one of his cartoons. The opening scene where the carolers get boiling oil spilled on them is another image from a Charles Addams cartoon. So there were several of those. But no, my style is different than Tim and Terry’s, and Addams family is totally based on Charles Addams drawings and tone.”