Alexander Payne’s Nebraska to Be Released in Colour


Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is one of a few relatively high-profile black-and-white films to have been released over the past couple of years, a small group that also includes such films as Ben Wheatley’s A Field in England, Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie, Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, Noah Baumbach’s Frances Ha and recent Best Picture winner The Artist. While I don’t think that necessarily indicates any sort of definable trend, it is proof that some directors are still fighting for monochrome visuals at at time when it is almost commercial suicide to attempt it. Frank Darabont wanted to shoot his adaptation of Stephen King’s The Mist in black-and-white back in 2007, but wasn’t able to convince the studio to do it at the time. He eventually released a black-and-white version on the DVD and Blu-ray, however. Now it looks like Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is about to make the opposite transition from black-and-white to colour… the question is, does Alexander Payne approve?

Cable TV channel Epix will start airing and streaming Nebraska this coming weekend with the premiere set for Sunday Aug. 10th at 8 pm. However, on their website they are also promoting a second special event immediately afterward which is the world premiere of the full colour version of the film at 10 pm. It seems like it will be available for a limited time only.

Although Nebraska was shot specifically with black-and-white in mind, it seems that distributor Paramount Vantage pressured Alexander Payne into giving them a colour version of the film for certain international markets and to satisfy TV deals where they could air movies in colour only. His contract with Paramount guaranteed that all theatrical, DVD and Blu-ray releases would be black-and-white, but apparently Epix presents a bit of a loophole. Clearly he doesn’t want anyone to see this version of the film, but it’s hard not be a little bit curious. Are you interested in seeing the colour version of Nebraska or is this just a dick move by Epix?

  • devolutionary

    It’s a dick move for sure (seeing how Payne clearly didn’t want to approach the film that way). Frankly, I think the black and white setting adds an appropriate environment or character to the film. Rhetorical question but does Epix truly think that the movie will generate considerably more revenue simply by colourizing it? Shallow! I recall that TCM once started to show colourized versions of b&w films to considerable backlash too.

  • Brendan

    Devolutionary, I doubt that the film was colorized. I assume the fact that since it was “shot with black and white in mind,” that would indicate that it wasn’t necessarily shot on black and white film. It could have been shot with digital cameras (I don’t know, just assuming) and changed to black and white in post.
    But just because a color version exists doesn’t mean that there wouldn’t be reasons not to want to release it that way. Black and white can have different contrast values which would not necessarily translate to color in the way the director intended. Plus, black and white represents a vastly different look to the film.