With the dawn of the home video era came an opportunity to release Yellow Submarine on VHS and LaserDisc. However, it was held up for some years due to music rights issues that UA had to clear in order for the film to be issued on video by what was then MGM/UA Home Video in 1987. This was presented in its US theatrical release (without the "Hey Bulldog" scene), with a simulated stereo mix of the film's original mono soundtrack. After a couple of years, the video was pulled from release, and for many years mint copies of the initial home video pressing were considered collectibles.
In 1999, then-rights holders MGM and Apple re-issued the film using restoration techniques of the time, the sound remixed to Dolby 5.1, and the film re-edited to its European theatrical version with the "Hey Bulldog" number restored. This version (released through MGM Home Entertainment) has since gone out of print as the rights fully reverted to Apple Corps.
On 20 March 2012, Apple Corps Ltd. announced that the film has been digitally restored for DVD and Blu-ray release on 28 May (29 May in North America), later delayed one week to 4 June (5 June in North America). In a released statement, the company stated: "The film's soundtrack album will be reissued on CD on the same date. Currently out of print, the film has been restored in 4K digital resolution for the first time — all done by hand, frame by frame."
Apple Corps Ltd. had specialists work for four months to individually clean each frame of the 1968 surreal tale by hand. The company said that they chose not to use automated software because of the delicate nature of the hand-drawn artwork. In addition to the DVD and Blu-Ray re-release, the restored version also received a limited theatrical run in May 2012.
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