UPDATE: Well, it was fun while it lasted, but WB has edited their shop listing for The Shining on 4K, which now promises the 144-minute cut we've all seen a million times. The lost ending, alas, will remain lost, it seems. While they never promised the deleted epilogue explicitly, it certainly seems like they would've done that as it'd be a major selling point, so it's safe to assume the runtime discrepancy was merely an error. As to why they used the "Stanley Kubrick's original version" language and the date of release that included the extra footage, that remains a mystery. Original post follows.
Yesterday we were blessed with the news that Stanley Kubrick's classic (if unfaithful) adaptation of The Shining would be coming to 4K Blu-ray, another sure sign that the format is taking hold - the studios don't bother upgrading the older stuff unless the newer films are selling well. And I was on the fence about upgrading, since there were no new extras and, while I am 4K-equipped, I don't see enough of a jump in quality from standard Blu-ray to justify re-buying them. They don't even save space the way upgrading DVD to Blu-ray did!
But a note on the WB Shop's own page has me reconsidering, if it turns out to be true:
"The 4K remastering is of Kubrick's original 146 minute version of the film which premiered in the United States on May 23rd, 1980."
Now THAT is intriguing, as we've only ever seen the version that runs just under *144* minutes. For those who don't know the history on this one, The Shining was indeed released theatrically on that date on ten screens (it opened wide a few weeks later), at a runtime of 146 minutes. However, about a week into the run, Kubrick made the rather odd call to cut the film's epilogue, where Ullman visits Danny and Wendy in the hospital, opting to let the film finish on that haunting New Year's party photo. Projectionists were ordered to make the trim themselves (!) and ship the footage back to Warner Bros, where it then destroyed per Kubrick's wishes. Per this article on EW, "Kubrick was adamant that any footage not used in the final edit of his films were to be disposed and such orders were followed 'to the letter'”, leaving only a few behind-the-scenes photos and the script pages as the only evidence of the scene's existence.
So is this just a curious mistake on the WB Shop's page, or did they really unearth that footage somehow? If the film had opened wide with hundreds of prints I could easily see that some of those projectionists opted not to follow orders and let the footage live on (even if they just kept it for themselves), but with only ten prints floating around when Kubrick made that call I have to assume that they got them all, though it's just as likely that they had already started striking prints for the wider release and someone managed to squirrel the footage away from one of those. I assume we will know for sure soon, but let's all cross our fingers that it pans out and we get to finally see this "holy grail" footage for ourselves!