It was shot digitally and finished on a digital intermediate at 2K, and it is immediately evident, when one compares the image to that of the Blu-ray, that upconversion to 4K has not provided the minute increase in visible detail that my colleagues and I have often noted in UHDs derived from 2K sources. Comparison between Warner's 2160p, HEVC/H.265-encoded UHD and the Blu-ray only reveals just how good the Blu-ray is at rendering the story's manifold environments, characters and textures. Whatever improvement is visible on the UHD is entirely due to its HDR grading, which offers subtle (very subtle) enhancements to depth and contrast in the many dark environments that cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (Stoker and the original Oldboy) was challenged with lighting to achieve the appropriate balance between essential visibility and scary indefiniteness.
Thus, for example, at the beginning of the film, when Georgie ventures hesitantly into the forbidding Denbrough basement, the surroundings are just as dim, but the shapes of the shelves and stacks are better defined. In the rabbi's study, where we first see Stanley terrorized by the painting of which he's always been frightened, the texture of the paint on the canvas is mildly accentuated. When the gang of Losers ventures into the dank sewers looking for answers, the bricks that form the tunnels are somewhat more distinct and textured, even as the light falls away. In the extended climactic sequence, where the Losers confront Pennywise in his lair, the piles of clothing, toys and childhood bric-a-brac that have accumulated over many centuries of the evil clown's predations are more readily visible and you can better make out individual shapes in the various heaps.
As I noted in the Blu-ray review, colors in It have been mildly desaturated, draining the environment of vibrancy just as Pennywise has been draining the town of life. (Note how much bluer the sky becomes once the Losers have banished the monster.) The HDR colorist has resisted the temptation to dial up It's colors, but there are a few interesting exceptions, especially in the red portion of the spectrum. The balloons that signal Pennywise's presence pop in the frame with a little more intensity; the inflated upside-down triangle that greets Andy behind the Neiboldt house is especially bright. The geyser of blood that erupts from a bathroom sink (shades of Carrie) is a more intense red. Even Beverly's hair gets a slight red push, so that her auburn locks make her stand out from the crowd even more (which is no doubt the opposite of what the tormented teen would want). In general, though, the UHD disc's palette remains consistent with that of the Blu-ray. With no increase in detail and only tiny tweaks to color, black levels and contrast, the 4K presentation provides a viewing experience that's little changed from It's 1080p rendition.
Note that It has also been encoded with Dolby Vision, as an alternative to standard HDR. Blu-ray.com is currently evaluating options for Dolby Vision playback and review.
The UHD disc contains the same powerful Dolby Atmos track that was previously reviewed. It also offers the same option of a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track as the Blu-ray. However, in a bizarre quirk of mastering, the Blu-ray defaults to the Dolby Atmos track, while the UHD defaults to DTS-HD MA, and Atmos must be specifically selected from the menu, either before or after hitting "play". This is not the first time we have seen this oddity with Warner 4K discs, and I hope the studio's UHD group catches up soon with its Blu-ray producers. It reminds me of the early Warner Blu-rays that defaulted to lossy Dolby Digital when a lossless track was available.
4K Bluray details
Codec: HEVC / H.265
Resolution: Upscaled 4K (2160p)
HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1
Original aspect ratio: 2.39:1
English: Dolby Atmos
English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 16-bit)
French (Canada): Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)
Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1
English: Dolby Digital 5.1 (448 kbps)
Note: English DD=narrative descriptive
English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional)
4K Ultra HD
Two-disc set (1 BD-66, 1 BD-50)
Slipcover in original pressing
4K Blu-ray: Region free
2K Blu-ray: Region free