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'King Kong' Attacks

5 Aug, 2005 By: Thomas K. Arnold

Director Peter Jackson, at work on his own remake of King Kong for Universal Pictures, is helping Warner Home Video produce bonus materials for its Nov. 22 (prebook Oct. 18) 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 that takes up most of the second disc in the two-disc special edition.

“Fans of this film are going to go crazy; we've got everything but the kitchen sink,” said George Feltenstein, SVP of classic catalog for Warner Home Video.

One part of the documentary focuses on the mysterious “spider pit” sequence deleted from the film.

“For years, there has always been speculation, does this footage exist?” Feltenstein said. “So we have a piece that actually explains what it was, and we do a re-creation of it.”

In true Warner fashion, King Kong — which has never before been available on DVD — will arrive in two configurations: a two-disc special edition ($26.99) and a two-disc collector's edition ($39.98) packaged in a collectable tin with 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 movie poster.

Warner also will release a $39.92 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 DVD's arrival right before Jackson's remake opens in theaters is “actually a coincidence.”

He said the notion of putting King Kong on DVD was first floated shortly after the format's launch in 1997. The problem was, “we didn't have good film elements,” Feltenstein said. The original negative to King Kong no longer exists, so Feltenstein and his team had to do a “worldwide search,” he said.

In addition to the new seven-part documentary, the King Kong special edition DVD 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 Ray Harryhausen and Ken Ralston.

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