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TME > Video > Commercial Releases

The Movie

New Years Eve 1999. Earth is about to run out of time...
Returning home to Gallifrey with the remains of his arch enemy, the Master, the TARDIS is forced off course, returning the Doctor into the middle of a street gang's gun battle in downtown San Franciso.
Critically wounded in the shoot out, the Doctor has to regenerate to save his own life. And he's not the only one - the Master too has a new body with which to wreak havoc, and his ultimate goal is to take the Doctor's own existence.
As the clock counts down to the start of a new millennium, the Doctor has to stop the Master destroying all life on Earth. But at what cost...?

-- from the DVD release, 2001

The VHS release initially held up other video releases for the majority of 1996... The DVD release in 2001 was (slightly less) controversially one of the first stories picked for a digital release.

Episode timing on DVD: 85'46"
Episode timing on PasC: 84'39" (85'46" on 1999 repeat)


VHS releases

22/05/1996: UK - BBC Worldwide - BBCV5882 [Deleted May 2001]
??/11/1996: Aus - Universal/CiC - RFM1478
??/??/1996: Germany - Universal/CiC - Cat# Unknown
??/??/1996: Sweden - Universal/CiC - Cat# Unknown

In order to make way for the initial release of this, all releases following The Hand of Fear early in 1996 were postponed and nothing more released until January 1997, except The Green Death, which featured a non-standard cover and was publicized as a tribute to Jon Pertwee. Both this video and The Green Death feature a TARDIS on the spine (below left). The one presented here, however, featured the wrong amount of door panels.

This was was one of the few videos to feature closed caption English subtitles and the first photo-based cover for several years.

The pre-release version of the VHS cover (see right) used in UK publicity featured no certificate (due presumably to the debates raging between the BBFC and BBC Worldwide over which category would be most suitable for a 'family' film) and also a non-foil pressed logo (presumably due to the difficulties of representing this in a normal advert). Similarly, the early DVD cover featured a 'U' symbol in place of what could have realistically been a PG, a 12 or a 15 certificate. (see below)

The version originally aired in Britain and released on video featured the following cuts: Various edits to the opening gunfight sequence, the removal of the seventh Doctor's final scream from the operating table (at the BBCs, rather than the BBFCs request) and a single extra shot of Chang Lee's neck snapping when the Master kills him. Also, the end credits were caption-based, rather than scrolling, the caption "Based on the BBC TV Series" was removed, and the FTBs (fade-to-blacks) at each commercial break were replaced with crossfades.

Versions released in other territories are assumed to be identical to the NTSC master. Certainly the Australian version contains all sequences that had been edited for the UK, including the missing opening caption and the FTBs.

The original UK video release launch was somewhat lacking in the effort originally planned. As conceived, the media flurry would include: A midnight opening at various branches of HMV on 14th May 1996, and a national release the day after (close enough to the US airdate to avoid piracy, according to to the BBC at the time) alongside the BBC scriptbook and novelisation (the day before the DWM Movie Special), a glow-in-the-dark sleeve from Woolworths, 6 free postcards from WHSmiths, a special badge from HMV and a free poster in a variety of shops such as John Menzies. On May 10th, BBCWW informed the distributors the tape would be delayed, and after briefly scheduling it for 18th May, it eventually arrived at the shops on 22nd May. WHSmiths still gave out the postcards to every customer (see below), but the other promotions fell flat.

The release delays were caused primarily due to the sensitivity over the events that happened in a school in Dunblane during March (a gunman opening fire on a hall full of children), which had a knock-on effect of over-censorship of any use of guns on TV or film for most of that year. Following the preparation of a mock-up sleeve in late March showing a 12 certificate, BBC Worldwide showed a rough print of the film to the BBFC to gauge an early reaction. The board suggested a 15 rating would be more appropriate, which initially pleased the BBC as it "placed the film in the same sector as The X-Files" (an odd comment given that by that point the BBFC had made passes on 10 different X-Files videos and only 1 of them was classified 15, while most were given PG or 12 ratings); but on the evening of 9 May, the BBFC told BBC Video that they couldn't allow the film, due to be broadcast before the watershed on 27 May, to be screened to a family audience, whilst having the simultaneous release of an 'adult' video version. Hence the cuts were made to fit the TV scheduling - despite Alan Ayres, Head of Drama Publicity, promising that "Schedules are not confirmed until two weeks before the date of transmission, [and] The Scheduling Department will not set a timeslot until they know the nature of the finished material".

As part of the production agreement Universal received syndication and video distribution rights worldwide, except for the UK - the BBC retained those rights there. The video was never released in the US, although Universal held the rights to a release for some time.

The caption at the bottom of the German cover translates as "The Time Traveller returns! But this time he is not alone!"

Laserdisc release

??/??/1996: China - CiC Video (HK) - Cat# UL1228

CLV NTSC Stereo disc. Features Chinese subtitles. Sleeve lists time as 90 minutes, but this is incorrect. Pressed in Japan, as is typical for Chinese laserdiscs due to the lower costs of outsourcing duplication.

DVD releases

??/??/1996: China - Fox Video

Although this release has the Fox logo on the cover, TME also believes it to be an illegal bootleg based on the Chinese laserdisc released that year - not least of all because CiC (owned by Universal) had the worldwide release rights outside the UK, not Fox.

Cantonese soundtrack option.

13/08/2001: BBC Worldwide - BBCDVD1043
02/07/2007: UK - 2|entertain - BBCDVD1043

Cover art by unknown artist - part of three in this style (along with Andozani and Varos), after which Clayton Hickman took over artwork responsibilities.

An early cover (right) featured a U logo.

This release was identical to the version broadcast in 1999 on Doctor Who Night, BBC2. Namely that all previous edits were reinstated (and the closing captions were now, accurately, a scroll), but the "Based on the BBC TV Series" was still removed, and the FTBs were replaced with crossfades.

In Summer 2007, 2|entertain repackaged Spearhead from Space, Genesis of the Daleks, The Hand of Fear, Earthshock, The Five Doctors, Revelation of the Daleks, Remembrance of the Daleks and The 1996 Movie in new packaging, generally based on the existing art inside a circle motif - these were, however, just cardboard slipcases over the existing releases, and at a lower price-point.

DVD Bonus features

A collection of interviews taken from the Fox US EPK, which was handed out to networks wishing to promote it. Some of this footage was edited into the Promo, above, and an alternate version was created by BBC Video for use in the UK, with some slightly different comments. These are all "raw" and sometimes contain the actors making facial expressions they probably assumed would be edited out prior to public consumption.

Sylvester McCoy (2'21") - The history of the show, 1963-1989, and them having to repeat the first episode. The worldwide following, how he became involved in the film and his friendship with McGann. Why he agreed (the thrill and the money). The magic of Doctor Who. The show being both Earthbound and space-bound (a cross between The X Files and Star Trek). [the Fox Promo includes an extra moment where he explains the tradition of regeneration, not included here].

Paul McGann (1'59") - Sylvester McCoy teaching him, what he should expect from the film, the enhanced production values and the concept of regeneration, the Master's relationship with the Doctor and the thousands of loyal fans [the sequence in the Fox Promo is not included].

Eric Roberts (0'51") - Playing such a melodramatic character and his history of watching Doctor Who since the early 70s.

Daphne Ashbook (1'27") - The character of Grace and why she kills the Doctor, what the Doctor remembers about her, the Master being "a bad guy" and "the history of Who...ville..."

Philip Segal (2'08") - The difference between the old and new show (the money essentially) and tailoring to an American audience. The underground following in Chicago and why Fox is the best place for the series.

Geoffrey Sax (2'16") - The high quality of the script, a brief synopsis of the film, why the Doctor is such a unique character, how they picked Daphne Ashbrook and reaching a bigger audience [the Promo also contains a brief moment where he refers to the film as "fun"]

Philip Segal 2001 (8'59")
Recorded backstage at Gallifrey 2001, Segal provided a brief to-camera commentary on his feelings on the production, 5 years on: He talks about his background and how he first got into Doctor Who, why he felt it was a fresh idea to bring DW to the States, the idea that the film should have led to a series and the Doctor as a "timeless" character. He then goes onto explain how his involvement with Amblin and Seaquest DSV led to meeting with Alan Yentob to discuss Who, how Spielberg lost interest following the Leekley script and the end result pleasing all the partners. Next he moves onto the uniqueness of Doctor Who, using Eric Roberts (not his choice), the romantic elements (again not his choice) and his favourite elements (the TARDIS etc). Finally he describes himself as privileged to be a part of the show's history and his hopes that the show will live on...
Camera: Keith Barnfather
With Thanks To: Philip Segal, Shaun Lyon, Robert D Franks

Isolated Music
4 Audio Tracks
Three audio options, including a Sax commentary recorded at TVC on 8th March 2001, an isolated score compiled by Mark Ayres, and four complete pieces of stock music used (or, in one case, ultimately not used) in the production.

Photo Gallery
49 colour photos

Information Text
By Richard Molesworth
Behind the Scenes Compilation (4'47")
More footage from the Fox EPK - the shooting scene, the sequence where Grace and the Doctor hold up the traffic cop and the Master sitting up in his new body for the first time. Some of this appeared in the Promo.
Philip Segal tours the Tardis set (2'33")
More footage from the Fox EPK - Segal takes us round the TARDIS interior, primarily the console and some of the background props. Some of this appeared in the Promo.
Alternate Scene - "Give him the keys!" (0'45")
Alternate Scene - "Puccini!" (0'17")
Two alternate takes of scenes from the TVM, taken from a promo reel prepared for Canadian audiences.

Easter Egg: Pertwee Dedication
Move left from the Play All feature to display this dedication, as broadcast immediately post transmission in the UK in 1996.

Restoration Notes

All footage was taken from the Digital Betacam original, with a brief moment (from the opening credits) taken from a DEFT conversion made in 1996. Although an early edit of the TVM exists (which Matt Dale painstakingly catalogued at the request of the Restoration Team), it was later discovered that almost all sequences of interest contained unclearable music. Matt put the Team in touch with another fan who held the Canadian promo reel, which fortunately just featured an early mix of the Debney music. Matt received a thanks on the RT website for his work.


20/05/1996 - Passed as '12' by the BBFC (1'06" requested to be cut from the original 90'46". This apparently made the final length 84'32") for the UK.
26/06/1996 - Passed as 'M15+' (for 'Low Level Violence') by the OFLC for Aus/NZ
11/05/2001 - Bonus features passed as '12' by the BBFC for the UK
10/07/2001 - Menus passed as 'PG' by the BBFC for the UK
03/09/2001 - Passed as '12' by the BBFC (85'41" - this time uncut) for the UK

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