Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

 

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

THAT’S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION Blu-ray cover (concept art)

Warner Home Video has released the cover art for the August 12 Blu-ray release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition (above). The documentary captures Elvis in the summer of 1970 in rehearsals and performances for his third concert series at the International Hotel in Las Vegas.

There are also at least two versions of the related press release floating around on the Web. As this version comes directly from Warner Brothers, this is likely the most accurate as far as preliminary product details:

Disc 1 (Blu-ray Disc)
2001 Special Edition
Special Features:
“Patch It Up: The Restoration of ‘Elvis: That’s The Way It Is’”
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences
1970 Original Theatrical Version

Disc 2 (DVD)
1970 Original Theatrical Version
Special Features:
12 Outtakes – song/nonmusical sequences

That’s The Way It Is represents my personal favorite of all of Elvis Presley’s projects, so I am thrilled it is finally coming to Blu-ray. Based on Warner Home Video’s partial mangling of the 2010 Elvis On Tour Blu-ray release, among other prior Elvis video issues, I am trying to remain cautious, however.

Content-wise, this appears simply to be a Blu-ray version of the 2007 2-DVD reissue of the Special Edition. However, the potential for dramatic improvement in video and audio quality that Blu-ray offers should be a strong selling point. I suspect that only the 2001 Special Edition, which represents a completely different edit of the film than the original theatrical version, is garnering the full upgrade treatment. I hope I am wrong, however, as both versions deserve it.

I hope that Warner spent more time on the films than it did the cover art, for something about it looks slightly familiar. Join me for a trip down Memories Lane for a look at previous home video cover art related to That’s The Way It Is.

Original Home Video Releases (Circa. 1987)

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video covers (circa. 1987)

Note the error on the left cover promoting “The Wonder of You” as being included in the movie. Though Elvis name-checks the song, it did not appear in the actual film. A performance of “The Wonder of You” from that engagement did not appear on video for another five years. It was also added to the Special Edition version in 2001.

1988 VHS Re-release

THAT'S THE WAY IT IS home video cover (1988)

Lest there be any doubt, Elvis did not wear a pink jumpsuit in That’s The Way It Is. As a child of the 1980s, I have to love the vintage cover art style, though.

1992 VHS Release of The Lost Performances

THE LOST PERFORMANCES home video cover (1992)

The original photo of the same Elvis pose made an appearance on the cover of Elvis: The Lost Performances, a release that helped define my Elvis fanhood. It featured outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour. While the main Elvis photo is unfortunately a reverse image, this is still one of my all-time favorite covers. Maybe it is because I loved that video so much, though. Looking back, I do have to wonder if using similar cover art caused consumer confusion. Many that already had the 1988 video release of That’s The Way It Is may very well have believed this was the same content under new packaging – despite the “lost” title.

 1997 VHS Re-releases and First DVD Release

1997 VHS editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS and THE LOST PERFORMANCES; 1997 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS

As The Lost Performances had (temporarily) taken over the Elvis pose first used for That’s The Way It Is on VHS in 1988, striking new cover art for That’s The Way It Is made its debut for the 1997 VHS and DVD editions of the film. The Lost Performances VHS cover also received a slight redesign for 1997, though, sadly, it did not receive a DVD issue.

2001 Special Edition VHS and DVD Releases

2001 VHS and DVD editions of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

A new edit of That’s The Way It Is, marketed as That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition, made its debut in limited theatrical runs in 2000. In 2001, it hit home video with VHS and DVD releases. Unfortunately, Warner had to excise bonus features at the last moment due to not obtaining proper clearances. A performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits also had to be replaced. The original version of the film was not included. For the cover art, Warner went back to the tried and true Elvis pose first used in 1988 – despite the fact that this was a different version of the film from the original. Again, fans who already had previous versions with similar covers probably did not bother to buy this one. The “special edition” also featured only a few of the songs from The Lost Performances.

2007 DVD Re-release

2007 DVD edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

By 2007, the original theatrical version of That’s The Way It Is was out-of-print on DVD. A 2-DVD re-release of That’s The Way It Is: Special Edition included the original film and some of the excised bonus features from 2001 on the second disc. Bonus features were in embarrassing video quality for a mainstream release. While definitely watchable, the 1970 theatrical cut was also in lesser condition relative to the 2001 edit.

2014 First Blu-ray Release (and beyond?)

2014 Blu-ray edition of THAT'S THE WAY IT IS: SPECIAL EDITION

Hundreds of incredible photos are available of Elvis during the filming of That’s The Way It Is, but the Warner Home Video art department remains firmly fixated on the same image featuring Elvis after audience members have ripped his jumpsuit and mussed up his hair during an impulsive walk through the crowd.

5 thoughts on “Covering THAT’S THE WAY IT IS through the years

  1. That is great news! I love the 2001 version of the movie–got to see it in the theater here in Memphis when it came out. They had the editors of the film (along with Ernst Jorgenson) speak before the movie ran. The picture was crystal clear, the theater sound was fantastic–all in all, a marvelous night. Now, finally a Blu-ray version of the film. Can’t wait to see it on my HD TV at home! Let’s hope they don’t have any song substitutions like in Elvis On Tour–that was very disappointing!
    Keep up the good work, Troy. I love your blog.
    PS. I got the Legacy Edition CD in the mail as promised. Thanks again for that!

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    • Thanks, Jake. Glad the Legacy Edition of Elvis Presley made it out there okay last month.

      I am definitely looking forward to seeing That’s The Way It Is on Blu. It will no doubt be the Elvis event of the year for me. I just hope both versions are given a full restoration and, like you, that no songs are cut. Otherwise, I would just as soon they wait and do it right.

      It would be great, incidentally, if they used the “Are You Lonesome Tonight” ending to the Special Edition, which thus far has only been in the 2000 theatrical prints.

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  2. Nice article Troy. Why couldn’t they just use the photograph on the cover as it is instead of the over retouched version that makes Elvis look plastic? TTWII shows Elvis at the very pinicle of his career, let hope this release does it the justice it deserves. I remember showing the movie to a friend who wasn’t an Elvis fan at the time, straight after watching it she said that she now had respect for Elvis and understood why he is so popular.

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    • Thanks, Colin. I’ve had the same experience when sharing TTWII (original version) with the “general public” as well. I’ve also heard the same from many other fans over the years.

      Unfortunately, it seems the potential influence of TTWII is lost on The Powers That Be when it comes to the legacy of Elvis Presley.

      I agree that the Blu cover would look better as a straight-out photo, as opposed to an Elvis that looks computer-generated. Surely they have other photos from this movie in their archives, though? In the 2007 release, there was a great photo of him on stage holding a guitar on the liner notes cover. THAT would make a great outer cover.

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  3. Pingback: See track listing and photo for Sony’s massive ELVIS: THAT’S THE WAY IT IS – DELUXE EDITION | The Mystery Train Blog

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