DVD corresponds with fest's 40th anniversary
Wavy Gravy will greet a new legion of Woodstock fans next year when Warner Bros. releases an expanded 40th-anni edition of its doc on the monumental music festival.Warners is adding at least one more hour of concert footage to the four-hour “Woodstock Director’s Cut,” including previously unseen perfs by the Who, Joe Cocker and Joan Baez. The Oscar-winning doc, which has been out of circulation on DVD since January, will mark its high-def debut with its July 28 reissue. Promo campaign is expected to tie in to a series of events orchestrated by Michael Lang, co-creator of the fest. A museum opened in June near the upstate New York site of the 1969 concert. The scope of the “Woodstock” reissue campaign, combined with Focus Features’ planned Ang Lee pic revolving around the event, is a marked contrast to the distance toward Woodstock shown by the media at the time. The New York Times and Time magazine, among others, ignored Woodstock until word about its enormity seeped out a few weeks later. Warner’s homevid arm will release the doc in several versions, the most lavish being an ultimate collector’s edition at an as-yet undetermined price. That version will come with a companion doc, “The ’60s and the Woodstock Generation,” and memorabilia likely including replicas of handwritten notes by festgoers and a draft card from that era. “Rather than just treating it as a DVD film and putting a box around it, we are really trying to go beyond that,” said Jeff Baker, Warner Home Video exec VP and g.m. of theatrical catalog, who has been working on the project for a year. The studio unearthed around eight hours of concert footage that had never before been aired or issued on homevid in a Kansas City, Mo., storage facility, then worked to clear the rights with the artists, labels, music publishers and estates involved. Typically, Baker said, a studio is lucky to find a handful of minutes here and there for a reissue, so the found Woodstock footage was a big boon. “Imagine having hours never before seen,” Baker said. “It really is an anomaly.” Baker acknowledged rights to additional footage of Jimi Hendrix have been particularly tricky to pin down, but he said the studio is still working to land them, as well as those of other performers. Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana, Janis Joplin and Jefferson Airplane all performed during the three-day fest at Max Yasgur’s farm; the Grateful Dead and Creedence Clearwater Revival have never given permission for recordings of their perfs to be released. “There are hardcore fans that will want to see everything and will be disappointed if everything isn’t in it,” Baker said, but he said the expanded and remastered footage will be compelling even for those who weren’t alive during the concert. Director Michael Wadleigh, who painstakingly saved the additional footage, is overseeing the reissue with original engineer Eddie Kramer, who was hired by Hendrix and present during the mud-soaked carnivale. Baker said the homevid campaign will play up the social and music aspects of the fest, noting that Woodstock should strike a chord among younger auds, given its theme of peace and understanding at a time an unpopular war raged overseas. The release also will incorporate reflections by musicians and other showbiz figures on the significance of the event.
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