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The Wire Being Remastered, Rebroadcast in HD

by Jacob Klein
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UPDATE:  HBO has finally given us a premiere date for The Wire HD!  THE DAY AFTER CHRISTMAS 2014!  December 26th, that is.  Here’s the info straight from HBO:

The Wire: The Complete Series in HD will be available for the first time as a full series purchase at iTunes, Google Play, X-Box Video and Vudu on January 5. Individual episodes and seasons will be available through all of HBO’s Digital HD retailers.

To celebrate the HD launch, HBO Signature will air the entire series consecutively, one season per day starting with season 1 on Friday, December 26 at noon. The marathon will wrap with season 5 on Tuesday, December 30.

This will be the first time The Wire has aired on a linear HBO channel since Season 5 wrapped in 2008, as well as the first time that all five seasons of the entire series have aired consecutively on the network.

All 60 episodes will also be available in HD on HBO GO starting December 26.

No word on the Blu-Ray set just yet.  Maybe someday.

UPDATE: We’ve just heard back from HBO on this.  The Wire is being remastered and September was the original target date but the episodes are still being reviewed and aren’t ready quite yet. So the good news is that The Wire IS being remastered and is coming soon!  The bad news is you’ll have to wait and the dates are still up in the air.  We’re gussing this trailer was indeed real but that it wasn’t pulled in time.  More as we get it.  — Jacob

The original source is this man claiming to have seen this on HBO’s air:

Anyone else seeing the same?  Please comment with your first-hand experiences.

We haven’t had news to report on HBO’s The Wire in a long, long time but this tidbit caught our ear. HBO will be rebroadcasting one of its iconic series: The Wire in never-before-broadcast HD glory!  The marathon will begin weeknights at 8PM starting on September 4th.  You’ll find the episodes on HBO Signature, a channel most, if not all HBO subscribers should have access to.

Here’s the teaser that’s been reportedly airing across HBO’s properties this weekend:


We aren’t sure if this rebroadcast is better or worse than what you can stream on HBO Go currently or on Amazon Prime but either way it’s exciting to see HBO give the series some love. A few weeks ago the Amazon Prime version of The Wire flipped to full HD, 16:9 aspect ratio but they have since been pulled.  So the video exists, we just don’t know when HBO will drop it on us.

HBO has been frustratingly quiet about a release of The Wire on Blu-Ray. But with The Sopranos recently being announced as an amazing new Blu-Ray set and now the above news, we’re hoping that The Wire will make its way to Blu-Ray sometime in the near future.  Why does HBO toy with us like this?

“It’s all in the DVD sales game, yo.”

If you can’t get enough of David Simon (the creator of The Wire) you’ll be happy to know that he’s putting together a new mini-series for HBO called Show me a Hero.

So go watch The Wire on HBO Signature this month.  It’s a good time to watch it for the first time if you missed it in 2002 (which all but a few million loyalists did).  Give it a watch and report back here when you’re inevitably converted. It’s not quite like watching Game of Thrones but it’s amazing in its own right.

UPDATE: While The Wire still does not show up on HBO’s official schedule we did find this on TVGuide.com:


This puts The Wire, Episode 3 on at just the time purported by the trailer. Monday at 8PM with subsequent episodes airing on HBO Signature every weekday after that.  It does skip the first two episodes on the 4th and 5th but we’re assuming this is just an oversight adding to the already confusing situation.

TV Guide had to have gotten this information from somewhere and we see this as a solid source.  More as we get it.

BELIEVE, people!

UPDATE 2:  More confirmation from our loyal followers; Xfinity now has the same info:

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Immanuel July 15, 2020 - 4:31 am

Oh wow, how come I didn’t read this until now? The Wire is one of my favorite tv series ever and It would be great to watch it remastered!

I wonder if this series will have a reboot someday

ronnie raygun December 2, 2014 - 7:01 pm

watched the series in total 10x at least. in fact i have watched it in 16:9 resampled on my system, but i will have to watch it again in HD. best series ever.

omar comin….

Hamsterdam September 28, 2014 - 1:23 am

So, it’s 28 of September
was it true?? did the show aired in HD or not??

Gabe1972 September 3, 2014 - 3:59 am

If it’s in 4:3 I won’t bother watching it. HD is supposed to be 16:9 or similar aspect ratio. NOT 4:3. To remaster it for HD broadcast but leave it in 4:3 is ridiculous.

Max September 4, 2014 - 11:01 am

So you’d rather they broadcast it in a ratio that it was not filmed for? Sorry but that is ridiculous. I will refuse to watch it if they massacre the way it was originally filmed/framed and convert it to 16:9

Gabe1972 September 4, 2014 - 11:21 pm

As long as it’s not broadcast in “strech-o-vision”, then yes, but if they ruin it like that, then no, I would rather see it in 4:3.

ronnie raygun December 2, 2014 - 7:02 pm

i have watched it in the new aspect. you will all dig the higher res believe me.

Igal Neshto September 3, 2014 - 1:27 am

YES!!!!! Just leave it at 4:3 please….

fausto412 September 2, 2014 - 6:46 pm

going straight to my tivo…for real!

theusher September 2, 2014 - 9:39 am

Alan Sepinwall just posted this:

Alan Sepinwall ‏@sepinwall 4m

Re: “The Wire” being remastered in HD for September marathon, HBO says the date was premature, and they’re still working on process.

Jacob Klein September 2, 2014 - 10:03 am

Yep. We’ve just heard back as well. Must have been a last minute pull. The trailer was most likely real but they didn’t take it down in time. Hopefully it comes soon!

Jacob Klein September 2, 2014 - 10:27 am

To be clear. Everything about this story is correct except that it was delayed at the last moment. The Wire Remastered is coming!!

alynch3 September 2, 2014 - 10:34 am

If I had to guess, I’d say a certain show creator who has been fairly adamant in the past about maintaining the 4:3 image made a stink at HBO upon hearing of this.

leemwhitman September 2, 2014 - 8:59 am

I hope they maintain the 4×3 aspect ratio per David Simon’s request.

AM September 2, 2014 - 8:20 am

Ryo: with respect, you don’t know what you’re talking about. THE WIRE was shot ON FILM, so it CAN be made HD (like The Sopranos). Also, the fact it was shot 4:3 doesn’t matter at all. You just center the 4:3 image in the frame (see STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES, TWILIGHT ZONE, etc as examples).

The one real problem is that the show was most likely edited (i.e. shots assembled, music added, etc) onto standard definition NTSC videotape, meaning to get a true HD image, they’d have to do what CBS did with STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION: they’d have to go back to the original film rolls and edit/assemble all the episodes all over again. A time-consuming (and costly) process to be sure.

So, it depends on whether HBO feels there is enough “worth” in an HD upgrade as to whether they’ll go back and do that, or whether they’ll just cheap-out and upscale the SD masters.

And, FYI, seasons 1-6 of THE X-FILES were shot ON FILM, so they CAN be upgraded to HD, but since they were post-produced/edited onto tape, they’d also have to go through the same costly process that NEXT GEN underwent (some rumours are abounding that X-File will, indeed, be getting such a remaster, though).

leemwhitman September 2, 2014 - 9:01 am

Exactly. Also they’d have to update the VFX which for the Wire wouldn’t be too costly (the only shots I remember having CGI where when the towers come down.)

Bobbie Thomas December 22, 2014 - 8:42 pm

All of thE VFX shots were re-done, either in house or sent to outside vendors (the towers coming down).

adamwhitehead September 2, 2014 - 8:09 am

The remaster of THE X-FILES is in fact already underway. The first four seasons have already aired in HD on ProSieben Maxx in Germany and the El Rey network in the USA. See this thread for screenshots and info:


Not to mention:


Apparently the HD broadcasts are a test run for a future Blu-Ray release, which will likely be of the entire series in one box set (as opposed to ST:TNG’s season-by-season approach).

The X-FILES remaster is also a little contentious because it’s unclear if the CGI is going to be upscaled or re-done. There’s relativey little effects work in XF, so it’s not quite as major a issue. There’s certainly a big debate over the OAR of the series, however.

Ryo Shenmue September 3, 2014 - 7:23 am

It’s funny that you say that “i don’t know what i’m talking about” when i’m a DP working in TV :D. You, sir, are the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about(no offense). The Wire was shot on film but it was shot on SD; a couple of years ago i had the pleasure to talk with David Insley(who photographed 7 or 8 episodes of The Wire in the course of four years and three seasons) and first of all, he told me that the first three seasons were shot on 4-Perf, which forced them to lose too many edges, while Season 4 and 5 were shot on 3-Perf which allowed them to save more money but subsequently lose more edges(which wasn’t a problem since they wanted to use only the 4×3 and not the 16×9. Shooting like this essentially gives you an image that is something between a Super 16mm and an ALMOST standard 35mm.
Then, he clearly told me that The Wire had NEVER been on HD, not even 4:3 HD and that there is no 16:9 version anywhere because they were losing the edges in the first three seasons as well as in the last two(they were just losing LESS edges). Now, HBO uses high quality line doubling technology to “restore” SD shows and air them on HD channels but as good as it looks line doubled it is STILL standard definition. FYI, The first six seasons of The X-Files were shot ON FILM(you don’t need to tell me since Glen Morgan and Jim Wong are good friends of mine) but they CAN’T be upgraded to HD, first of all because FILM, as i’m sure you know, gets TREATED and secondly, because in the 90s there was something called ANALOG, which pretty much dominated every TV production and even the ones utilizing FILM. Since there was NO HD on television in the 90s, The X-Files was only shot in HD in the last three seasons(even if FOX did not start AIRING in HD until 2004). Since you are clearly misinformed, i’ll spend another two minutes schooling you(in a good sense) and filling your head with informations. The X-Files remaster has been in pre-production for a while but FOX has been having troubles going on with it because of the fact that the first six seasons were shot in SD. So, they would have to produce a Blu Ray monster box containing six seasons with FAKE HD plus three seasons with real HD and sell it at an amazingly high price(they haven’t done this yet because they know that The X-Files fans are not stupid and not all of them would gladly upgrade from DVDs to Blu Rays when most of the series is, in fact, shot IN SD). Next time maybe i’ll tell you about the fantastic discussions i’ve had with my friend Robert McLachlan(legendary Television DP, DP of Millennium and of some episodes of GOT).

Andy Reynolds September 3, 2014 - 8:43 am


I do not doubt any of what you say about your relationships and you clearly have a very solid understanding of production, but either I am misunderstanding what you are trying to explain or you do not seem to have a great deal of post production experience.

You mention for both The Wire and X-Files that they were “shot on film but they were shot on SD.” It appears you are not quite aware there is no such thing. SD (standard definition) is purely a video format.

Film only enters the realm of SD upon transfer from the film to video in the telecine. Depending on film stock there are obviously differences in how much resolution you can resolve into video, but even Super 16 can usually resolve just fine to HD, let alone 3 or 4 perf 35mm. So going back to the film to re-transfer to HD is not only possible, it is precisely what they do with ALL feature films that get re-released in HD.

The only real difference for TV versus feature films is the “resolution” at which effects work was done. Again, I am not sure what you mean by “film gets TREATED” but any color grading that may have been done in analog would retransfer just fine at HD.

None of this refutes the point that making a production that was originally 4:3 into 16:9 may be fraught with possible troubles, or even impossibilities without making unwelcome compromises (i.e. cropping) However, what AM was saying is correct about the aspect ratio: doing an HD remaster is still possible even without extra image outside the original framing if you just keep it 4:3. (center it in the frame with the black “pillar boxes” on the sides.)

I have no knowledge one way or the other on whether it was shot 4:3 protected for 16:9 but again that does not affect whether it can be remastered in HD or not, only what the aspect ratio of that remaster would be.

It is often a confusing crossover or production, post and effects and the desires of show creators and content owners are often at odds. But understanding the difference here between SD/HD and film is very helpful for understanding at least what is possible.

All that said, I still have not seen a single episode of The Wire (it has been in my personal Must See list for wayyyy too many years) and hopefully this discussion will at least get me to go watch it.

allexx September 3, 2014 - 9:53 am

Ignore that moron. Of course that’s what they do with HD releases and of course The Wire was shot and protected for 16:9 as evidenced by the screenshots people took a few days ago when it was still available in that AR on Amazon Prime. Please don’t get trolled by this idiot.

Andy Reynolds September 3, 2014 - 11:49 am

Too late. :)

SDiswhack September 3, 2014 - 9:29 am

Actually, you’re wildly incorrect. The source is film which means they could do it in 4K if they so chose to. The original delivery of the show was in SD, but that does not mean the source is SD.

Additionally, just because you’re a DP doesn’t mean you understand post production technology.

allexx September 3, 2014 - 9:58 am

Whoo, I guess if you claim on the Internet you are working in TV and are friends with Morgan and Wong that makes it true. But if what you’re saying it’s at least half-true you must be working on some shitty TV shows, considering your ignorance.

allexx September 3, 2014 - 10:09 am

Actually fuck that. There’s not a chance in hell a respectable guy working in the industry would comment on the Internet about video games and drool all over some shows while throwing shit at others. Fucking virgin Italian troll.

Tim Foster September 7, 2014 - 4:02 pm

They rescan the film, genius.

Bobbie Thomas December 22, 2014 - 8:37 pm

My GOD you’re an ass, you truly have no idea what you are talking about!! “The Wire was shot on film but it was shot on SD”.?!? What the hell does that even mean?? You seem more intent on name dropping than anything else. All of the film was scanned (2K), then converted to 10-bit 1920 x 1080 DPX files. It was confromed on Smoke & graded in Lustre.

Ryo Shenmue September 2, 2014 - 8:05 am

They will never produce the Blu Rays(thankfully) for two simple reasons: first of all, a bunch of people barely began to buy the DVDs four years after The Wire finished its first season and secondly, The Wire was not only shot in 4:3 as already stated but was also shot on SD, which means that even if HBO decided to produce the Blu Rays it would be a huge scam since the “HD” would not be real HD, it would be fake and it would ruin the visuals of the series. It’s the same problem The X-Files has(which is really not a problem at all), only Season 7, 8 and 9 were shot in HD and FOX didn’t even begin to air in HD until 2004(two years after The X-Files ended), so even if they’ll produce the Blu Rays of The X-Files(and they probably will because is the greatest cult series of all time) it would make no sense at all to buy them. There’s no original state to restore, there’s noting to restore except for the last three seasons and there’s nothing to restore at all for The Wire. It’s the greatest piece of art in TV History, just watch it in 4:3 and SD as it was intended.

theusher September 2, 2014 - 9:28 am

The X-Files is already remastered in HD AND in 16:9 and is broadcasted in Germany. I’ll bet a Blu-Ray release will come in 2015.

Ryo Shenmue September 3, 2014 - 7:24 am

Fake HD my friend.

allexx September 3, 2014 - 9:49 am

‘Fake’ HD? Bwhahaha. Have you at least seen the remasters? No? You’re a moron. I see you spew your ignorance and stupidity on other sites as well. Stop trolling&claiming to know what you’re talking about. The only DP you know refers to your double-penetration porn.

vatakarnic33 March 4, 2015 - 10:18 am

First of all, I actually do film restorations and preservations. The Wire, along with many other shows, was shot on 35mm. It premiered in SD, obviously, but that doesn’t mean it was shot in SD (because it was shot on 35mm). The great thing about film is that you can rescan the original negatives. In fact, The Wire could have been rescanned and remastered at 4K, though I think they opted out of that for cost reasons. What HBO is doing with their remastering here is not ‘fake HD,’ it’s actually real HD. And it could have been real 4K too, if they had put in the effort to do that.

DirtySouthHipHop September 2, 2014 - 6:43 am

The Wire was one of the best tv crime dramas ever made!

fausto412 September 2, 2014 - 6:48 pm

Nothing touches The Wire in my book. That show was just complete. Treme was almost as good but they cancelled it prematurely. David Simon and crew know how to make an awesome show.

SmithDoc September 2, 2014 - 6:34 am

that guy, arthur gies, is a journalist, so i’d trust what he’s saying.

JonRalphs September 1, 2014 - 8:00 pm

Awesome I’ll finally finish season 3, 4, and 5. I stopped because I went online to see what happened Idris dies which broke my heart. Could not take watching him die he was going to be president one day.

KatieNYC September 2, 2014 - 6:28 am

Do not defend Stringer Bell, c’mon now. He was clearly evil in this show.

Ryo Shenmue September 2, 2014 - 8:09 am

If you think Stringer is “evil” you clearly haven’t understood anything about The Wire and you’re also proving what David Simon said two years ago.

JonRalphs September 2, 2014 - 7:19 pm

I’ll defend who i want.

Andres September 1, 2014 - 7:47 pm

When will they put this on Netflix, my friends really want to see it.

TTT September 2, 2014 - 2:23 am

They could just damn torrent it for not having to wait.

Delando September 2, 2014 - 6:43 am

It’s on Amazon Prime

callie September 2, 2014 - 7:11 am

Netflix doesn’t have any kind of deal with HBO. I think they’re exclusively on Amazon Streaming for now.

Rhonda Thissen September 1, 2014 - 7:46 pm

The HBO Go version is strictly in SD. I’ve been binge-watching for the past couple of weeks, so I can say that definitively. :-)

JonRalphs September 1, 2014 - 8:00 pm


livvw September 1, 2014 - 4:37 pm

Anyone know if this will air in Canada?

Jim Larimore September 1, 2014 - 4:25 pm

Did they actually shoot this with widescreen formats in mind? I assumed they framed shots for 4×3.

AG September 1, 2014 - 7:31 pm

Everything has always been shot in 16×9 but was reformatted to 4×3 because at the time there wasn’t the technology for TVs to show 16×9.

ryry September 1, 2014 - 8:48 pm

The Wire started in 2002, when there CERTAINLY WAS “technology” for 16×9. DVDs had been released enhanced for 16×9 for years prior to this. The Wire was intentionally shot in 4×3, this is stated in several interviews and commentary tracks.

lvs September 1, 2014 - 11:23 pm

yep, but it was shot on 35mm film in 1.85:1 ratio, so they could retrieve the original negatives to create a widescreen version.

leemwhitman September 2, 2014 - 9:04 am

While technically it would be possible to do so, practically it might be impossible depending what was outside the broadcast frame when they shot the episodes. Releasing a WS version might reveal C-stands, a second camera, kinoflows, etc. See for example: 24, season 1.

theusher September 2, 2014 - 9:34 am

Like I’ve said in a previous (and not published, for some reason) comment, Amazon Prime actually had the first four seasons of the show in 16:9 ’til a few days ago. As far as I know from those who watched it, no C-Stands or cameras were reported. The show was broadcasted in 4:3, but was PROTECTED for 16:9. So it’s doubtful really those kind of mistakes will be present.

leemwhitman September 3, 2014 - 6:21 am

That’s good to know. I’ve only watched it on the DVDs, so I never tried it out on Amazon. I’d be interested to see a side by side image comparison to see if it’s actually a wider frame or if they just blew up the 4×3.

lvs September 2, 2014 - 11:07 am

The Wire was a single camera show. It was framed in 1.85:1 but cut later to 1.33:1. Making a WS version is not impossible.

leemwhitman September 3, 2014 - 6:20 am

I didn’t say it was impossible, just that their lighting/rigging might preclude them from doing so. Just depends upon how it was shot.

ryry September 1, 2014 - 8:53 pm

In fact, there are LASERDISCS from the mid-90s designed for widescreen tvs.

leemwhitman September 2, 2014 - 9:03 am

The Wire was shot with a 4×3 aspect ratio in mind according to the audio commentaries. Simon has also stated that he’s against a 16×9 release.

DamnDirtyApe September 1, 2014 - 4:17 pm

Horrible trailer shows no before and after. Why would anyone make a “trailer” about a remastered show with no footage or images whatsoever???

SmithDoc September 2, 2014 - 6:35 am

because that’s not classy. that’s the sort of thing that’s on youtube, not on hbo.

ed209 September 1, 2014 - 2:53 pm

This is 100% happening. I worked with the company that is doing the VFX work for the remasters. They will all be airing in 16×9 with all new VFX as well as a new digital transfer.

Jacob Klein September 1, 2014 - 4:45 pm

Hey could you give us any more on this? Does September 4th come to mind? Still trying to verify this whole thing.

I know it’s happening just want to make sure it’s happening this week!
Any additional info would be great. We’d love to interview you or anyone involved who wants to talk about how it was done too.

ed209 September 1, 2014 - 4:57 pm

Sorry, but that is really all the info I have. Just happened to be working in the same building where they were reprocessing and with the company that was redoing VFX, so I knew it was coming up. I’m as excited as everyone else if it is starting this week!

lvs September 1, 2014 - 11:27 pm

Actually the pilot is available in widescreen version too. You can find it on torrent sites. Wire was shot on 3-perf 35mm film in 1.85:1 but cut in post to 1.33:1. I don’t see any reason why they couldn’t do a new version from the original negatives,

anserve88 September 1, 2014 - 1:13 pm

I cancelled HBO the day Sopranos got cancelled. Never looked back.


Otello September 1, 2014 - 12:30 pm

Hope the HD quality will not change the original 4:3 format. Neither apply any color correction.

?? September 1, 2014 - 1:51 pm

What? Why wouldn’t they fix the horrible 4:3 format? The show was shot in 16:9. there just weren’t enough 16:9 TV’s to use that format. hence the reason its getting remastered.

Sun September 1, 2014 - 2:41 pm

They also preferred the cramped 4:3 as a way to tell the story. But yes they did crop it down before broadcast.

ryry September 1, 2014 - 8:59 pm

Go on…

Ronbot 3 September 1, 2014 - 4:57 pm

No, the show was shot like that on purpose as per David Simon’s wishes – he felt it created a more documentary realism, which is also why it wasn’t HD. The Sopranos was in 16.9 long before The Wire was started, it’s nothing to do with TVs.

ryry September 1, 2014 - 8:57 pm

This is 100% wrong. The show was intentionally shot in 4×3 as a stylistic choice. Some shows that were originally released in 4×3 like Seinfeld and The X-Files were shot on film and had elements that could be later manipulated to re-frame to 16×9. Shows that were shot on tape like most sitcoms from the 80s and 90s cannot be. Some shows that only exist in 4×3 (like Kung Fu season 1) were released on DVD in widescreen. This is terrible because the DVD producers just cut information from the top and the bottom of the frame off to make it appear widescreen. If this is what happens to The Wire, this is going to be bad news.

I’m assuming you’re the same commenter from above who stated “everything was always shot in 16×9” I would really consider reviewing the history of cinema. Movies for a long time only existed in square ratios around 4×3. In 1953 more films started to be released in 16×9 to compete with television. While widescreen eventually became the standard, there are still SEVERAL movies that are in 4×3 because the director chose to make them that way.

ryry September 1, 2014 - 8:59 pm

To further blow your mind, consider this… Something can be in HD resolution and be 4×3 at the same time.

SmithDoc September 2, 2014 - 6:41 am

high def conventionally refers to the 16 x 9 aspect ratio, or 1280 x 720 or 1920 x 1080 resolution, but it’s true there are 4:3 movies available in HD.

bob September 1, 2014 - 10:38 pm

It was shot in 4:3 but at least the first 2 seasons were framed in 16:9 as future proofing. This means that cropping will work much better to make it 16:9 than if it were all framed in 4:3 http://library.creativecow.net/articles/griffin_nick/hbo_the_wire.php

SmithDoc September 2, 2014 - 6:38 am

16:9 is cropped 4:3 (4:3 being the size of a film negative). so people’s worries are justified that the show will appear differently. that said, there have been plenty of remasters of 4:3 films that don’t cropped in to 16:9.

theusher September 2, 2014 - 2:34 am

It will probably be in 16:9. Amazon Prime had the first four seasons in that AR until a few days ago. Some are speculating that they jumped the gun and used the new masters and that’s why they removed them.

A few screenshots comparing 4:3 to 16:9 :






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