Sam Raimi; Writers: Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, Alvin Sargent
With Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst, James Franco, Thomas Haden Church, Topher Grace, Bryce Dallas Howard
Columbia Pictures / Sony
Available Oct. 30, List price $36.95
The third and possibly final installment in the Peter Parker series had some of the fanboys grousing that it was entirely too wet. There's no crying in superhero movies! Maybe this one was for the fangirls (and a few critics susceptible to weepies). Yet Spidey 3 is the year's top domestic box office attraction, at $336.5 million and, with a $891 million worldwide gross, second only to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. So despite the extravagant budget, Sony is crying all the way to the bank. The studio will reap quillions more with this DVD set.
The choice of extras for a big action-movie DVD has become formula by now. The director walks viewers through the process of dreaming up characters, then hands over to the special-effects geniuses and stunt coordinators who made his impossible ideas visual. (The screenwriter rarely gets to be in these filmettes.) Best part here is the research that went into miming the properties of sand on computers to create Haden Church's Sandman character. Amazing the expertise $258 million can buy.
Along with Raimi's commentary, there's another with Raimi and the six young stars. (First words on the track: "Welcome. I am James Franco, the director of Spider-man 3...") Here we learn that everything was wunnnnnderful on the set; that, according to Grace, Raimi runs the shoot "like the president of a small country"; that it was Haden Church's idea to "punch a dog in a movie for children"; and that, though Maguire did few of his own stunts, Haden Church did his own grunts. He has another good line, watching Dunst's M.J. in vehicle peril: "Sam, I just love the idea that you and Alvin and Ivan sat around at night: 'You know, maybe we should throw a dump truck at her.'"
Also out this week is Spider-Man - The Motion Picture DVD Trilogy, which lists for only $2.01 more than the two-disc Spider-man 3, and which the outlet I visited, Virgin MegaStore on Times Square, was selling for the same price. What's the catch? In the Trilogy box set, Spider-man 3's extras are skimpy: the commentary tracks, a bloopers reel and a music video. Sony must think that Spidey fans already have the first two films on DVD; that they'll buy the two-disc version of the latest film; and that, a few months from now, they'll pay even more for a Spider-man Trilogy: The Special Bells & Whistles Super-Duper Box Set. Any time you hear industry types complaining that it's hard to make a buck these days, think of how they mint money on DVDs.