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Warners going ape

1933 'King Kong' get deluxe DVD treatment

Not only will the great ape be making his way back to theaters this fall, he’ll also be on DVD for the first time in the U.S.

Warner Home Video will unleash the original RKO “King Kong” in a two-disc special edition Nov. 22.

The restored movie features long-missing frames from when Fay Wray falls from the Empire State Building.

Bonus features include a seven-part documentary including a look at “King Kong” remake director Peter Jackson, a new one-hour TCM doc on ’33 “Kong” helmer Merian C. Cooper and audio commentary with archival recordings of cast and crew.

A few bonus features relate to an earlier, never-completed movie, “Creation,” dinosaur footage from which was incorporated into “King Kong.”

A collector’s edition packaged in a tin will include the two-disc special edition and two more first-time DVD releases: the sequel released later in 1933, “The Son of Kong,” as well as 1949’s “Mighty Joe Young.” Latter is accompanied by two featurettes on f/x artist Ray Harryhausen and commentary by Harryhausen, Ken Ralston and Terry Moore.

Warner also will be releasing separately Cooper’s 1935 release “The Last of Pompeii.”

Jackson jumps in

Jackson, who directs the Universal remake that will hit theaters less than a month after the DVD bow, was instrumental in the production of much of the bonus material on Warner’s release, even spearheading a featurette about a 45-second segment involving a spider pit that was shot but not included because it was deemed too scary.

WHV senior veepee of catalog marketing George Feltenstein said there will be no mention or cross-promotion of the Universal movie on the Warner DVD, nor with the marketing of the U movie relative to the DVD.

Feltenstein said Warner has been on track to release the restored “King Kong” on DVD in the fourth quarter of this year ever since the studio finally uncovered an adequate film element to use.

Jackson approached Warner about helping out with the DVD release of the 1933 original right after he won his Oscars for the final “The Lord of the Rings” pic, Feltenstein said.

Although none of the Kong movies has ever been released on disc in the U.S., there have been DVD releases through separate licensing deals with RKO for overseas territories distribution.

There was no effort to include the 1976 Dino De Laurentiis remake of “King Kong” in the package or cross-promotion. That film, starring Jessica Lange, Jeff Bridges and Charles Grodin, has been distributed for some time on DVD by Paramount Home Entertainment.

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