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Old 17-06-2005, 12:35   #1
John Hodson
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The 8th Wonder of the World - 2-disc SE of King Kong & Kong Collection; REVIEWS

With DVD Times posting the rumoured release date for the much anticipated Warners 2-disc SE of the fabulous, the original, King Kong, I thought it time to start a thread not only in anticipation of this mouth-watering release, but also to put together all the scuttlebutt that's accruing. Much of this info is from the 'Upcoming' thread.

Firstly, way back in in February, these tentative specs were posted at the HTF:

King Kong: Two-Disc Special Edition November 2005
Special Features are scheduled to include:
*3 featurettes with Peter Jackson, director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy
--Tour of Jackson’s personal Kong memorabilia
--The Magic of Kong’s Stop Motion Wizardry
--The Mystery of the Spider sequence
*Fascinating feature-length documentary on the Creator of King Kong, Merian C. Copper
*Interview with Peter Jackson on how King Kong influenced his filmmaking
*Theatrical Trailers


They created quite a stir, not least because of the involvement of Peter Jackson. Come March and over at The Bits, Barrie Maxwell confirmed that November release date. In April, Hewlett-Packard posted this...

Warner Bros. Studios and HP also announced that they have teamed to restore the 1933 classic motion picture "King Kong." One of the American Film Institute's 100 most beloved films and named to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress, the original camera negative of "King Kong" has long been destroyed, leaving only elements and prints that have been deteriorating over the years.

Warner Bros. Studios has brought the best elements and prints from all over the world and has scanned them into a 4K digital file. Using HP's "dirt and scratch" technology, which was developed by HP Labs, the 72-year-old classic will be digitally restored to its 1933 brilliance. A new camera negative as well as new archival elements will be created so that the film will be saved for generations to come. This new, restored version of "King Kong," as it was originally released, will be screened theatrically and broadcast on television, as well as released on Warner Home Video.


...obviously proud that their computer technology was being used by Warners.

Then Variety attempted to clear up some confusion:

By the time Universal releases Peter Jackson's vision of "King Kong" on Dec. 14, the first DVD edition of the original 1933 pic is expected to be on store shelves. Except it won't have a Universal logo on it.

Warner Bros. has long been working on restoring the pic for DVD release. Although it hasn't announced when the DVD will go on sale, it is expected to be near Jackson's "Kong."

In the runup to the release of its monster-mash "Van Helsing" last summer, U tried a similar gambit, releasing "Legacy Collection" editions of the classic Frankenstein, Wolf Man, and Dracula pics that had inspired helmer Stephen SommersStephen Sommers.

So how did the classic "Kong" end up with Warners and Jackson's "Kong" with U?

Rights to the 1933 film seem to have passed through nearly every studio's hands over the years.

The original "Kong" was produced by RKO Radio Pictures. But after RKO exited the studio bizbiz in 1957 and sold its lot to Desilu, most of its library, including "Kong," was bought by United Artists, which was in turn acquired by MGM.

Turner BroadcastingTurner Broadcasting bought MGM's library in 1986, but 10 years later it merged with Time WarnerTime Warner, delivering rights to the original "Kong" to Warner Bros.

(In another twist, the 1976 remake of "Kong" was produced by Paramount, which had acquired the old RKO lot when it bought Desilu.)

Universal didn't have to license the character from Warners first because the Jackson pic is not, it says, a remake. And besides, the actual "Kong" character (though obviously not the original film) is now in the public domain.


(Though that doesn't explain how Warners are releasing 'Kong' in R2 - if that DVD Times schedule is to be believed - when it was a one-time Universal Home Video title.)

Earlier this month, I reported this in the 'Upcoming' thread:

This from Glenn Erikson over at DVD Talk:

...there is a rumor going around that may be a real revelation for King Kong fanatics. I call this a *rumor* because I haven't even read it personally, but it is supposed to come from genre authority Tom Weaver, and I checked with another genre authority yesterday and he seemed to think it was real as well. Remember the legendary 'spider pit' sequence in the original Kong, reportedly cut after a preview? If my source is correct with this *rumor*, Weaver says that at least a part of it has been located, in a French print that was used as a new restoration source for the other more standard excised Kong scenes - the gnashing of natives in Kong's mouth, the dropping of the brunette over 5th Avenue, Kong's amorous monkeying with Ann Darrow's perfumed dress. In the cut Spider Pit scene, the barely-alive sailors tossed from the log by Kong are attacked by giant spider monsters. The horrible detail has been seen only in a single surviving still image that first saw the light in Famous Monsters magazine, back when we were gum-chewing kids.

Again, this is still in the category of *rumor*, but some rumors are too hot to keep quiet about, as long as one stresses their proper status.

And this is from Mobius, via the HTF:

There's a story emanating from the company doing the extras for the big-scale DVD of KING KONG coming from Warners this Christmas: someone found the spider pit sequence, and it was in an especially good print of the whole movie. Supposedly part of the scene is still missing--so Peter Jackson is having it done in CGI designed to look like stop motion! This means that Universal has to be cooperating with WB. I hope this is true, but my source, who begs to go unnamed, is pretty good.


And I'll refer you to this interesting post at the HTF for pics of the Spider sequence.

This post, today at the HTF in that same thread:

Tom Weaver, the monster movie historian who was quoted in the original DVDTalk story about the supposedly found spider sequence, posted this on another forum

Quote:
NOW Warners honchos are telling folks on the q.t. that NO original Spider Pit scene has been found, but that the DVD will feature a *recreation* by an Oscar-winning animator named Randy Cook.

Is this to squelch the "Spider Pit sequence found!" rumors, or is THIS the truth? Or... ??? Anyway, different Warners people are telling different participants on the project different things. It's all very weird ... but now I'm starting to get a bad feeling.

Another *rumor* is that KONG will be part of a set that also includes THE SON OF KONG and THE LAST DAYS OF POMPEII but all will also be available individually. MIGHTY JOE YOUNG will follow later.


Finally, also today, from Ain't it Cool News:

About that lost footage from '33 KONG rumor going around...
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another bit of rumor control regarding a bit that's starting to sweep the net about the lost "Spider Pit" scene from the 1933 KING KONG being found and included in the upcoming DVD being put out by Warner Bros. Here's one of the emails we got about it:
You may have already heard this…

From dvdfile.com…"There's a rumor going around that King Kong fans are going ga-ga for. There was a ‘Spider Pit' sequence in the film that was cut after just a few previews, and has been said to be lost ever since. But in putting the DVD set of the classic film together for a Fall release - to coincide with Peter Jackson's upgrade, of course - supposedly a part (if not all) of it has been found on a print in France. Again, this is not the kind of thing to get your hopes up for, but seeing as I nearly **** my pants upon hearing the news myself, I thought I'd send it on to you. Keep watching DVDFile for more updates…"

This, understandably, got me very excited, but this rumor started with another bit that didn't survive as it spread around the net, apparently. This other bit said that Peter Jackson was having Weta Digital complete the partially found Spider Pit scene using CG that mimicked stop-motion animation. That sounded off to me (especially since he'd be using Universal's time and money on a Warner Bros project), so I contacted Jackson's group with the rumor.
I was told that this is not true, that Jackson's camp has been in close touch with the DVD people at Warners and while they can say a brilliant print was found for the transfer it doesn't include the Spider Pit scene. It does, however, include all of the censored scenes, which I believe would include Fay Wray being stripped by the big Ape. This might be where the confusion came from, people assuming that the Spider Pit scene was part of the censored scenes. Now the censored scenes have been around, but as part of this newly found print the scenes are bound to be in better condition than we've seen previoiusly.
So, bummer... I wish it was true. I'd love to see the Spider Pit sequence, but before you get too excited I thought I'd make sure to set the record straight.


Ah, rumours - where would we be without them Good stuff though, and I, for one, will be at the head of the queue when the official announcement - which you'll find reported in this thread - comes.
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Last edited by John Hodson; 14-11-2005 at 08:49.
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Old 17-06-2005, 17:43   #2
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Hi John

Thanks again for putting together all the rumours so far.

It is really exciting to see that KK will finally be released shortly

Cheers

Oscar
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Old 18-06-2005, 13:22   #3
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I'm hoping for some worthy extras and commentary, although I feel that the Jackson stuff should perhaps go on his own discs, avoiding the HELLsing tie-in style features on the Universal Monsters discs.

A theatrical release of a restored print? - Hopefully this will be released on the UK, and it's probably what I'm most looking forward to.
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Old 19-06-2005, 08:50   #4
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Any word on whether the Criterion extras be ported across?
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Old 19-06-2005, 13:50   #5
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Almost certainly not. Apparently Criterion are now holding most of their studio-film supplements for ransom with outrageous terms no studio would ever agree to (Warner apparently had a go at getting the John Sturges track for Bad Day at Black Rock but it ended unhappily).
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Old 19-06-2005, 15:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Narshty
Almost certainly not. Apparently Criterion are now holding most of their studio-film supplements for ransom with outrageous terms no studio would ever agree to (Warner apparently had a go at getting the John Sturges track for Bad Day at Black Rock but it ended unhappily).
Arseholes. This is comparable in regards to music artists/record labels and TV-DVDs.
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Old 19-06-2005, 19:10   #7
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Is this a possibility of sometime in the future Criterion will want to make DVD's using this? I must admit, for my faults, I cannot attack Criterion, they have given me to much cinematic enjoyment over the years.
Once again thanks for posting all the roundups John. I've been following this info with quite some interest over many websites and forums and I am over the moon that we finally have the release.
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Old 17-07-2005, 16:38   #8
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I wonder if this is good news..?

Play.com has listed the R2 release of King Kong; Special Edition for November 7. But with an rrp of £12.99, and retailing from Play at just £9.99 that's too darned cheap for a long-awaited SE from Warners.

Now, it's either (a) a mis-price, (b) Warners have become extremely generous (c) it isn't chock full of extras and is a cut down version of the proposed R1. We'll see.
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Old 17-07-2005, 18:15   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Hodson
I wonder if this is good news..?

Play.com has listed the R2 release of King Kong; Special Edition for November 7. But with an rrp of £12.99, and retailing from Play at just £9.99 that's too darned cheap for a long-awaited SE from Warners.

Now, it's either (a) a mis-price, (b) Warners have become extremely generous (c) it isn't chock full of extras and is a cut down version of the proposed R1. We'll see.
Surely this isn't the Warner Bros DVD because Universal UK have the R2 rights for RKO films. Universal are probably re-packaging their previous KING KONG release.
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Old 17-07-2005, 18:19   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Douglas R
Surely this isn't the Warner Bros DVD because Universal UK have the R2 rights for RKO films. Universal are probably re-packaging their previous KING KONG release.
I have mentioned this in the first post Douglas; but it has appeared in a DVD Times list for rumoured Warners R2 titles. I too, would have expected this to come from Universal, and the fact that it's appeared at Play amid a raft of other newly announced Universal titles is suspicious to say the least.

EDIT - November 7, the date listed at Play.com, is also the date for several other Warners titles so the raft of Universal titles means little

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Old 17-07-2005, 20:48   #11
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To be honest, I'm fine with my existing R2 copy of the film. The quality is fine, and it comes with a decent length documentary. Plus, I thought our copy had all the previously cut (as opposed to lost) scenes anyway?
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Old 17-07-2005, 21:16   #12
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Originally Posted by R-T-C
Plus, I thought our copy had all the previously cut (as opposed to lost) scenes anyway?
Well, they're detailed above and you have the disc - has it?

BTW, Play.com is also showing a King Kong Box Set with an rrp of £29.99; no details on what's therein.

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Old 05-08-2005, 18:10   #13
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Taken from Reuters/Hollywood Reporter via a pointer in the HTF...

Quote:
Director Peter Jackson, at work on his own remake of "King Kong," is helping produce bonus materials for the DVD debut of the 1933 original.

Jackson is working on a new documentary, "RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World," a two-hour, seven-part feature included in the two-disc "King Kong" set, which Warner Home Video will release on Nov. 22.

"Fans of this film are going to go crazy; we've got everything but the kitchen sink on here," said George Feltenstein, the studio's senior vp of classic catalog.

One part of the documentary focuses on the mysterious "spider pit" sequence deleted from the film before its theatrical premiere in New York and Los Angeles.

"For years, there has always been speculation, does this footage exist, so we have a piece that actually explains what it was and we do a recreation of it," Feltenstein said. "For fans of the film, that's a big, important thing."

In true Warner fashion, "King Kong" -- which has never before been available on DVD -- will arrive in stores in two configurations: a two-disc special edition and a two-disc collector's edition packaged in a collectable tin and including a 20-page reproduction of the original souvenir program, postcard reproductions of the original one sheets, and a mail-in offer for a reproduction of a vintage 27-by-41-inch movie poster.

"The real one is worth about $25,000," Feltenstein said. "These are all reproductions, but they're still nice to have."

Warner also will release a four-disc collector's set featuring the two-disc "King Kong" special edition along with "The Son of Kong" and "Mighty Joe Young."

Feltenstein said the DVD of "King Kong" was two years in the making and the fact that the DVD is arriving right before Jackson's remake opens in theaters on Dec. 14 via Universal Pictures is "actually a coincidence."

In addition to the seven-part documentary, the "King Kong" DVD set includes such extras as a documentary on "Kong" director (and creator) Merian C. Cooper, a trailer gallery of Cooper's other films, and a commentary from stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen, actress Terry Moore ("Mighty Joe Young") and special effects master Ken Ralston ("Star Wars").
Simply can't wait for this!

A Harryhausen commentary

Hope there's a way of getting the tin set along with Joe Young/Son of Kong without double dipping for Kong itself, though.
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Old 05-08-2005, 19:10   #14
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from davisdvd - specs and versions:

The grandaddy of all fantasy films, Warner Home Video will release the classic 1933 King Kong on November 22nd. Featuring a newly restored and digitally mastered transfer from the rare nitrate film elements, the big ape will be available as a two-disc special edition packed with extras. Among other things, look for an audio commentary with effects masters Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston, "RKO Production 601: The Making of Kong, the Eighth Wonder of the World" (a two-hour, seven-part documentary created by Peter Jackson), a feature-length documentary on 'Kong' creator Merian C. Cooper and a trailer gallery. The two-disc set will retail for $26.99.



A more lavish Collector's Edition box set will be available as well and will come packaged in a collectible tin with a 20-page reproduction of the original 1993 souvenir program, original poster art postcards and a mail-in offer for a vintage theatrical poster. Retail for this set is $39.98. Warner also will release a four-disc collector' set featuring the two-disc King Kong along with The Son of Kong and Mighty Joe Young. Retail for this is $39.92.
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Old 05-08-2005, 19:22   #15
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Oooh! a 'Collector's Edition box set packaged in a collectable tin'.

The 4 disc collectors set also appeals to me but what are the other two films in the set any good?

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Old 05-08-2005, 19:36   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Spectre07
The 4 disc collectors set also appeals to me but what are the other two films in the set any good?
You've never seen Son of Kong or Mighty Joe Young?!

While neither belong in the same all time classic category as Kong, they're both good fun. If you're a fan of early FX & stop motion work then they're a must buy.
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Old 05-08-2005, 20:12   #17
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Any known regional differences?
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Old 05-08-2005, 20:22   #18
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No official specs/announcement for the R2 yet AFAIK.
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Old 05-08-2005, 22:41   #19
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The R4 version is up at ezydvd:

http://www.ezydvd.com.au/item.zml/782019

Specs still to be confirmed though...

Cheers,

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Old 05-08-2005, 22:45   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyHorse
While neither belong in the same all time classic category as Kong, they're both good fun. If you're a fan of early FX & stop motion work then they're a must buy.
So they're good for a Kong-a-thon, or rather a giant ape-o-thon.
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