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Pet Shop Boys / ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ to get blu-ray+DVD release

Pet Shop Boys / It Couldn't Happen Here to be released on blu-ray and DVD

The Pet Shop Boys‘ 1988 film It Couldn’t Happen Here will be issued on blu-ray and DVD for the first time in June.

Directed by Jack Bond, the film started life as an hour long video for the Actually album before being turned into the cult classic feature film it became. It runs for 86 minutes and stars Neil and Chris along with Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt and Barbara Windsor.

This release was confirmed recently by Neil Tennant, who said “it was sort of a disaster. But an interesting disaster” adding that “it will probably get slammed all over again; it’s a very strange film”.

It Could Happen Here has never been issued on DVD or blu-ray (only VHS and laserdisc) but thanks to the BFI (British Film Institute) it has been newly restored from a 4K scan and a special blu-ray+DVD combo set will be released.

The HD (blu-ray) and SD (DVD) versions of the film come in a limited edition 48-page ‘digibook’ pack which includes writing on the film by Anthony Nield, Jason Wood and William Fowler. Extras will also include a feature commentary with director Jack Bond, James Dillon and Simon Archer. Other extras are to be confirmed (please say we’ll get a PSB commentary!)

It Couldn’t Happen Here will be released on 15 June 2020.

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here (DVD + Blu-ray)

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  • Presented in High Definition and Standard Definition
  • Limited Edition 48-page Digi-book includes writing on the film by Anthony Nield, Jason Wood and William Fowler
  • Feature commentary by Jack Bond, James Dillon and Simon Archer (2020)
  • Interview with Jack Bond (2020)
  • Other extras TBC

116 responses to Pet Shop Boys / ‘It Couldn’t Happen Here’ to get blu-ray+DVD release

  1. WILLIAM ENGLAND says:

    This is now “unavailable” from Amazon.

  2. Tony Kimsal says:

    Looking at the specs, this seems to be incompatible with US players, if I am understanding. Paul, can you provide any clarity on that question? I am baffled why US fans would be locked out of this after all this time. Please tell me I’m wrong.

  3. Glenn says:

    From PSB email newsletter today:

    The re-release will be launched with a special preview screening at BFI Southbank on 3rd April 2020, preceded by an on-stage Q&A with Neil Tennant, Jack Bond and choreographer Arlene Phillips. Tickets will be listed at http://www.bfi.org.uk/southbank on 24th February and will be on sale as follows.

    BFI Patrons and Champions – Mon 2 Mar from 11:30 AM

    BFI Members – Tue 3 Mar from 11:30 AM

    General public – Tue 10 Mar from 11:30 AM

  4. AdamW says:

    Wait, you can modify an Oppo to play region-locked DVDs and Blu-rays? This US resident might be interested in learning how to do that in order to watch this release, theoretically speaking.

    • Phil Cohen says:

      I bought my Oppo’s (BDP-83,BDP-105D & UDP-205) as modified “code-free” units from the outset. The Opps’s (even in their stock, off the shelf form) have PAL to NTSC & NTSC to PAL conversion capability. That ability came in handy when playing the PAL DVD’s from the new Kim Wilde 3-disc sets.

      • AdamW says:

        Yeah, PAL/NTSC is not a problem for me. Region-locking is. And of course they don’t make Oppos anymore, so getting one that can play region-locked discs is not in my future, I guess.

        I feel like this should be a solved problem in 2020. Ah well.

        • Luckily, 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray is region-free, so at least in the future, we won’t have region code nonsense again.

        • SimonP says:

          Back in the days of only DVD, I bought a Denon player and the hifi shop I bought it from modified it to be region free and just charged me an extra £20 or so. It may be that your player can be modified the same way. I’m sure it was just a data disc that they played in it that modified the firmware.

    • Guy says:

      For Oppo users, the following link from their Aus site might be useful. I can confirm it worked for a 203 Player here in Canada.
      https://www.oppodigital.com.au/pages/superdisc-unlock-your-oppo-bluray-player-for-all-dvd-regions

  5. Kevin says:

    This came out while I was living in Japan; I got to see it in a small theater in Osaka in January 1989. Later, of course, I bought the VHS when it came out. I have a DVD dub somewhere, which I watch about once a year.

    Yes, It Couldn’t Happen Here isn’t exactly award-winning cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have its moments. And I never get tired of the diner scene.

    Of course, the best part, as one reviewer pointed out at the time, is getting to hear the music on a theater sound system.

    It’s too bad this edition will be a Region 2 DVD/Region B blu-ray, since music video releases are usually coded for all regions. I’m hoping there will at least be a Japanese edition, so I can get that.

  6. Jack the Lad says:

    This Must Be the Disc I’ve Waited Years to Ignore

  7. Scott R says:

    If only Australians could buy this! We’re not allowed to buy anything from amazon.co.uk and this is something i’ve wanted since I got an old VHS copy from a video store. Ebay, here I come ant 5 times the price…..

  8. AdrianW says:

    I have the movie on laserdisc. It’s truly a awful movie and utterly pretentious .. however the song segments are passable. It looks like 16mm to me but as we know from the Wham Last Christmas 4K restoration, I’m sure it cleaned up and scanned nicely. Certainly a time capsule and a must for fans.

  9. Arnd says:

    Slightly OT: I just bought the current issue of the German music magazine Musikexpress. It includes a blue transparent 7″ single by the Pet Shop Boys:
    A Dreamland (feat. Years &Years)
    B Always on my Mind / The Pop Kids (live)

  10. TG says:

    This is the PSB item I’ve wanted most. When I have my hands on this I will gladly delete the digital rip I’ve had for too long.

  11. Eric Generic says:

    Actually is still one of my top 10 albums, and I love the Pet Shop Boys, but this film was just too weird and didn’t click with me (perhaps unsurprisingly). I have the VHS, but I will actually (…..) get this DVD/Blu-Ray because I’m curious to see how the passage of time might have changed my reaction to it. Or not!

    EG.

  12. RichardB says:

    I’d hate them to go to all the effort of finally getting this a release and it not to have a Tennant/Lowe commentary…

  13. Stephen K says:

    Thanks, John R., Auntie Savtina and B.F.I. for the news about Scandal. Details look great. Hope it and It Couldn’t Happen Here get an NTSC release, even if they get licensed out to a U.S. company for release in the States. Always happy for the work the B.F.I. does!

  14. daz says:

    now boys how about a Performance blu ray release?

  15. CJ says:

    This is amazing and bordering on unbelievable. I never thought we’d see a proper release for this on Blu or DVD. I have a bootleg DVD of the film, but I’m looking forward to upgrading to proper release.

  16. Bengt says:

    I’ve got a decent rip of my laserdisc of the movie (except for the soundtrack in mono) but this will be smashing!

    “I’ve been up all night trying to round off the infinite…”

  17. michael59 says:

    brilliant news! it’s a strange movie but it’s such a sweet memory from the 80s when i watched this in the cinema. blu-ray and 4k is great too.

  18. Mattips says:

    Great news about this film being reissued. Item is listed as PAL on Amazon site. This item is currently not being offered in NTSC format which is the DVD format playable in USA. Perhaps a reader can educate us on a PAL blu-ray and whether a player can be reset/changed to play the disc in USA. Thanks.

    • Auntie Sabrina says:

      Your TV must also be capable of playing PAL, it’s only the DVD that is PAL

    • Christian says:

      @Mattips – You can easily find a Blu ray player that is either already enabled to play PAL and NTSC discs or find a player where you have to “hack” the player to be able to watch PAL discs. By “hack” I mean there’s usually some sequence of buttons on the remote that you’ll have to press to get to some secret menu that will let you choose settings on the player. I have this Insignia Blu ray player and that’s what I have to do so I can watch PAL Blu rays. I’m going to assume you have an LCD TV, so you’ll be fine.

    • Charlie D says:

      Oppo had a pal-ntsc bluray and regional coding could be changed on their earlier players but we’re talking a $800+ machine

    • Lou says:

      Mattips, there are some Blu-Ray players that can be hacked to play discs from any area, but if not done well it could seriously damage the reader. The ones you find for sale online usually do not last long for the same reason. My solution was to have an acquaintance who traveled to the UK get me one there, connected it to a transformer here in the US and voilá.
      But I truly hope they release it coded for America and Canada.

  19. NightFlightToVenus says:

    I saw this in an entirely empty ABC Toledo in Glasgow in 1988.
    It was dreadful!
    But will be interested to see if its improved (in any way) with age.

  20. Kiki_ says:

    I want it, I Want it, you know I really want it … I ‘ve been waiting for decades to get this one !!

  21. Alan C says:

    “A FRIED SLICE!!!”
    Worth it for the whole Gareth Hunt Ventriloquist in the café scene alone.

  22. Mikael Björnfot says:

    Please email me if anyone is willing to either sell the original promo cassette or copy of it. Also, han anyone confirm how these tracks differs from the original tracks they relased later?

  23. Mike says:

    Will they release the sound track digitally that is on the cassette only as an extra addition? Is there anyone that can confirm this?

  24. Mark says:

    I am in this. Filmed my bit late August/early September 87. We were told then it was going be called ‘A Hard Days Shopping’ a pun on A Hard Nights Day of course. I still have a copy of Chris jacket somewhere and we were given the film soundtrack on cassette.

  25. Eamonn says:

    I’ve only fully discovered “actually” this past week – I’m only 35, gimme a break(!) after buying the 2018 remaster vinyl through one of the SDE alerts recently. This song, It Couldn’t Happen Here, has been in my head for the last three days along with I Want To Wake Up (I already fell for What Have I Done To Deserve This? and Kings Cross a few years ago). Weird though as when googling the song at the weekend I read about this film which I had never known about!

    • Brian W says:

      It Couldn’t Happen Here is such a brilliant, beautiful song. Neil wrote three songs about the same friend who died from AIDS. It Couldn’t Happen Here, Being Boring and Your Funny Uncle

  26. Stephen K says:

    Hopefully the movie Scandal will get the same treatment. Not that the Pet Shop Boys are in that, but besides its great cast and great ‘oldies’ soundtrack, it does feature a Pet Shop Boys/Dusty Springfield song collaboration that, honestly, I like even better than “What Have I Done to Deserve This”. Sir Ian McKellen CH CBE was in it, and he also pops up in the music video for “Heart”. And in the U.S., though I seem to remember it receiving a VHS release, the DVD (no Blu-ray) you can buy is some region-free Asian import.

    Loved it the first time I saw, was less interested the second time. But it’s been quite a while and the movie has certainly been on my mind a lot recently!

  27. Chris Squires says:

    I don’t know why but all I can think of reading this thread is “The Red Shoes”.
    Superb, iconic artists
    I’ll conceived idea
    Great songs
    Poor film, critically panned
    Quietly Disowned by stars
    Equally loved and derided by fans
    Never released on DVD
    Got the Laserdisc (still got a Pioneer deck)
    Theatrically shown
    Artist Never tried it again….. the list, I am sure, could go on.

  28. Edward says:

    I’ve seen this, which works more like a (fever-)dream than a conventional film. As others have said, the choreography is stellar. I’ve done some “VJ”-ing in the past using some of those scenes and clubbers young enough to have been born the year the movie came out ask me where the clip is from. They can’t believe my answer half the time!

    The cinematography is fantastic too. Much anticipated reissue.

  29. mike says:

    any word on ALL REGION/NTSC??

  30. Simon says:

    I saw this at the cinema in I think very early 1988 also saw Wilt(Smith&Jones)round about the same time but the memory is a bit hazy,has the soundtrack been remastered/remixed for this reissue?

  31. Kevin says:

    The tea’s nice.

  32. Miles J says:

    Gareth Hunt is such a star in this film. Thanks to him, whenever I go to a greasy spoon cafe, I always ask for extra beans. It’s only a laugh, no ‘arm done!

  33. SimonP says:

    Didn’t Joss Ackland once describe this as the worst thing he’d ever been a part of?

  34. mike says:

    is it going to be ALL REGION/NTSC for usa?

  35. Cindy says:

    Was this ever released in the US? I have no recollection of this movie. I was a religious WLIR/WDRE listener and that’s where I would have gotten the info from back in the day . . .

  36. Phil Cohen says:

    I’ve got the original UK VHS (long ago tranfered onto PAL DVD-R) and I once owned the U.S.A. Laserdisc. Both had mono sound, and the U.S.A. Laserdisc ran drastically slow, rendering the music very noticeably flat. I hope that these issues will be addressed. I’m assuming that this release will be region coded. Fortunately, I’ve got three modified “Code-Free” Oppo Blu-Ray players; all with automatic region detection for DVD, one with automatic region detection for Blu-Ray, and the other two with manual region setection for Blu-Ray. if there is to be no North American release, I hope that the movie studio spares us the region coding shenanigans.

  37. Jon J says:

    Now there’s a blast from the past! I saw this once many moons ago. Wasn’t very impressed by it – found it very self-indulgent – but it’s a potentially interesting curio for hardcore fans from that era when pop stars started seeing if they had a broader range of talents (thankfully most of them gave up after one go).

    Perhaps the Style Council’s short film folly JerUSAlem from the same timeframe will follow…?

  38. Craig Hedges says:

    I was thinking about this film a couple of days ago as I’ve not seen it in a while. The film was made as they still weren’t in a position to go on tour and EMI suggested they do a TV special, Jack Bond the director was hired and he had the idea to make a semi-biographical film which follows Neil and Chris on a surreal journey but there doesn’t seem to be a final destination. Along the way they meet and interact with various ‘interesting’ characters and perform songs from the ‘Please’ and ‘Actually’ albums along with the then non-album single ‘Always on my Mind’ which the video for was basically a trailer for the film.
    Not sure how involved Neil and Chris were in the film as they were extremely busy during this period as ‘Actually’ had just been released, does anyone know the exact dates the filming takes place?, I’m guessing around early Oct 1987 because of the length of Neil’s hair as he had it cut very short by the end of the month during the promotion of ‘Rent’
    The film drags in several places but there are some great moments including Barbara Windsor lip-syncing to Dusty’s part in What have I done to deserve this?, the Cafe scene which is the one of the few moments you hear Neil and Chris talk and ‘Two divided by zero’ where it’s look like they have just woken Chris up.
    The TV special got upgraded to a cinema released film following the Pets having a huge amount of success including 2 number ones, in hind-sight this was mistake and was panned at the time. The film can now be looked at as the Pets equivalent of Magical Mystery Tour and is a fascinating period piece. I think the picture upgrade will help the film now end as the versions on video looked really flat and washed out, not sure what film stock it as shot on but it was quite grainy.
    Hoping Neil and Chris will do a commentary even if Chris walks out half through.

    • Eamonn says:

      Interesting memories…why didn’t they tour live at the time?

    • Toni Nestor says:

      If I recall correctly Neil revealed he had to wear a hair piece for parts of this film because during the making of it they made an appearance on Sunday Night Live From The Palladium quite clearly showing his new shorter style (and Chris wearing an inflatable jacket!) I lived in Clacton on Sea back then and they spent about a week there filming the earlier parts of the film some of which was incorporated into the “Always On My Mind” video and Chris being chased along the promenade by our friendly local Hell’s Angel’s. Apparently they really wanted to film it in Chris’s hometown of Blackpool but it wasn’t cost effective.

  39. Shane says:

    Wow just wow great to see this happen! Isnt the VHS rare abmnd expensive anyway making this reissue all the more an event? Would love signed editions!

  40. DonnieBiscuits says:

    Superb. I have a VHS copy knocking about, it’s one of them sold on from a rental shop when they were no longer being taken out. I had my Toshiba Stereo VHS player through my Pioneer HiFi to get the best from pre-recorded VHS tapes. Agreed with the earlier comments that this was the Boys commercial peak when they could really do no wrong and looked and sounded fantastic. On a wider view, this whole period of pop was brilliant with bands doing super indulgent long form videos with money no obstacle. I feel the PSBs aced it with this forgotten gem.

  41. Keith Ainsworth says:

    I believe it was the only film a band made in the 80’s that was on *general* release in UK cinemas. It was shown everywhere. I remember the music sounding huge in the cinema. I still have the large box rental VHS tape.

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards To Broadstreet was on *general* release too!

      • John McCann says:

        Yes and i wish that would be released on Blu-ray, really enjoyed it,so bad is one of my favourite macca song’s,did the Madness’film take it or leave it not hit the cinema?.

    • kook says:

      Rattle & Hum? Moonwalker?

      Ah, those were the days – when musicians could put bums on seats in cinemas as well as stadiums, albeit with some fairly ropey flicks. Still, I can’t imagine Ed Sheeran or Mumford & Sons troubling the multiplexes now.

      • AndyB says:

        Kook,

        “Broadstreet” didn’t put many bums in seats in the U.S. Out of theatres very quickly.

        • kook says:

          Possibly because ‘Broad St’ was irredeemably awful. Perhaps it was also because by 1984 many of McCartney’s core audience had long since headed into middle age, parenthood etc. and were less inclined to spend their time or money on an evening at the cinema (let alone to catch a film that had been universally panned).

          The titles I mentioned both made a decent profit. But can you imagine any such films even making it to a cinema screen these days – or any musicians wanting to produce one?

          I generally hate to quote Bono, but: “They say in the ’80s that rock ‘n’ roll is dead. I don’t think it’s dead, but if it’s dying, it’s because groups like us aren’t taking enough risks. You know, make a movie. Put yourself up against what’s out there – Robocop and Three Men and a Baby. That’s great for rock ‘n’ roll, not just for U2. I think you’ve got to dare.”

          Fast-forward to now, when even Scorsese struggles to get finance… not such a brave new world after all!

          • John McCann says:

            I must be the only guy who enjoyed broad Street then, would buy it in a heartbeat if.b.f.i released it on Blu-ray,a beautiful version of here there and everywhere if I remember correctly,in fact the soundtrack was amazing,also its captures Paul looking great,like when he appeared with linda on noel Edmunds show to promote it,by flowers in the dirt, just a few years later he seemed to have aged about 20years,am i the only one who enjoyed it?

          • Paul Sinclair says:

            I really enjoy it too. Particularly the Eleanor Rigby / Eleanor’s Dream sequence

          • AndyB says:

            “Broadstreet” was awful, wasn’t it? The Lennon “Imagine” doc was released to theatres in 1988. Truly enjoyed that one. Wrong decade, but “The Kids Are Alright” may be the best rock flick ever.

  42. Stevie B says:

    FINALLY!!!
    I went to see it last year at a Q&A with the director on Regent St and he said any release would be complicated! (The tapes were allegedly’stolen’ and there was some dispute as to who owned the rights)

    So copy shown at the cinema was a (very poor) transfer . So great that someone has finally sorted out it’s release. I disagree with Neil I think it was ahead of it’s time and will get more praise this time around.

    A commentary from PSB would be great (didn’t they already say they’d done one years ago?) and separate remastered music videos from songs featured in the film would be fab extras.

  43. Metal Mickey says:

    Blimey, this has taken so long to reach DVD I couldn’t help wondering if they had a “Let It Be”-type negative attitude towards it, but it’ll be nice to see it in decent quality (as opposed to my VHS rip), and I think it’s so bonkers that time has been quite kind to it… a nice time capsule at least… and IIRC, it was originally intended to be a South Bank Show profile of PSB, with some specially filmed musical inserts by Jack Bond, but then the inserts took over and it mutated into ICHH…

  44. Adam says:

    Paul, can I ask a question? Are Amazon still charging upfront for pre-orders? Just so I know what card to put this on. Thanks.

  45. Alois Hilken says:

    Is the German synchronized sound contained?

  46. Henry Watson says:

    Great.

    Seems a wee bit of a missed opportunity to include a CD or vinyl version of the soundtrack which I believe only ever received a promo cassette release?

    https://www.discogs.com/Pet-Shop-Boys-It-Couldnt-Happen-Here-Original-Motion-Picture-Soundtrack/release/2036936

    • Paul Sinclair says:

      That tape is really cool, but can’t see them ever releasing it officially.

    • MikeW says:

      Agree. I was lucky enough to come across this cassette in a charity shop for 20p about 5 years ago. Needed coaxing into playing ok (and it’s non-Dolby).
      I thought it had probably been included with the video, so picked it up as a curio. Didn’t realise it was a standalone promo until got it home!

    • JOHN WALMSLEY says:

      I remember entering a competition in the daily mirror and won a copy of the cassette and a huge signed fly poster, sold both of them on eBay a few years ago

  47. Gaz says:

    I still live in hope (52 going on 18 according to my Misses) that I’ll be around to see ABC’s Mantrap get an official release of some kind, but this is welcome news indeed.

  48. PJM says:

    Great to see this released. It had a limited cinema release at the time. It was maybe the first indication that the Pet Shop Boys were prepared to venture into areas where most pop acts wouldn’t dare or probably just wouldn’t think of. And they did it during their most creative period – when they looked and sounded best.

  49. Tim Pardington says:

    Loved this movie when I owned this on good old video back in the day.

    Highlights have to be the opening dance sequence (Arlene Philips choreographed this from memory), Joss Ackland as the blind priest and the big “Strictly” finale to the tune of “One More Chance”.

  50. cdmaniac says:

    Where will they confine the additional extras?

    • Auntie Sabrina says:

      I’d check the BFI website/shop particularly regarding region coding if you’re overseas, they only updated their releases for spring last week and this is out in June.

  51. daveid76 says:

    At long last. BTW I think it’s 1988 not 87

  52. Toni Nestor says:

    Great news!! I grew up in Clacton on Sea where parts of this film were shot and I vividly remember the PSB film crew rolling into town. I still have an original “big box” ex rental VHS copy of this and have waited so long for the dvd release.

  53. Brad says:

    Long known they recorded a commentary back in 2013. They mention it on the track-by-track interview for Elysium.

  54. Rich E says:

    I guess my VHS copy just lost all value! As a 13 year old I’d have this on before school each morning. Definitely more a long form video it contains some great little vignettes. The dummy in the cafe being my personal favourite.

  55. Jani-Matti Niininen says:

    Finally!!

  56. Trevor Smith says:

    Good to see this finally getting a reissue and on Blu-ray too! Not the best film ever made but essential for PSB completists.

  57. Sreedhar says:

    If there is a 4K scan, I wonder why there is no option of a 4K Blu-ray.

    Granted, they are nowhere near as widespread as Blu-rays, which themselves are nowhere near as widespread as DVDs, but I think it’s time for the music industry to embrace ultra hi-res video as an option.

    Then again, we’d probably end up paying a 100 bucks more on Pink Floyd’s The Later Years because they threw in the 4K discs along with the Blu-rays and DVDs!

    • Auntie Sabrina says:

      The BFI is a charity so they’ll probably want to make sure it’d be worth the additional costs versus the sales. I’d check to make sure the BD/DVD is not region B/2 locked by the way.

  58. Rickjapan says:

    It Could Happen Here –> It Couldn’t Happen Here lol

    I can imagine a lot of people will be very happy!!

    Now, how about Eurythmics’ Savage Video album…..

  59. Mike says:

    Have been waiting for this blu ray release for some time. I love this film, its so quirky and original.

  60. Don Balfour says:

    I am so happy to see this film finally be released on Blu-ray and DVD. I actually owned the laser disc version of this movie. It is a very strange film.
    It’s probably something you would not watch on a regular basis.
    However, it is wonderful to see it being released again on DVD and Blu-ray.
    I got rid of my laserdisc player about 20 years ago.

  61. Rob says:

    Been waiting for this for so long! Really great news, and perfect for a BFI release. A Neil/Chris commentary would be the obvious icing on the cake, so fingers crossed.

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