DATELINE -- Tuesday, 9 October 2001
'Spider Woman' has legs: Digital die-hards have been wondering for some time about the status of 1985's Kiss of the Spider Woman, which has been unavailable on home video for many years and pretty much impossible to find on television. Fortunately, your own DVD Journal editor chatted with Spider Woman producer David Weisman yesterday, who reports that a Spider Woman DVD is definitely underway. The story of the film is an odyssey in itself produced by Weisman for less than $1 million, and with 14 months of budget-stressed post-production, the picture made a strong impression at the 1985 Cannes Film Festival, where star William Hurt picked up the Best Actor award. The film was then nominated for four Academy Awards in 1986, including Best Picture the first independent film to get the nod and Hurt also won the Best Actor statuette.
With no major studio at the helm, Weisman entered into home-video agreements with Island in the United States and CBS overseas only to see both companies go defunct a few years later, causing the licenses to bounce around from one film library to another (including AVCO/Embassy, PolyGram, and MGM). Spider Woman can only be found nowadays on very old videotapes on eBay, and while several studios have expressed interest in releasing a DVD, the 15-year licenses expired recently and the home-video rights have fully reverted back to Weisman. And he isn't looking to make a quick buck off the film either.
"I own this stuff lock stock and barrel what's the point of rushing it?" Weisman says, noting that he has 404 boxes of materials in storage, dating from 1985. "Everyone's in a rush to get their DVDs out, but (for Spider Woman) there's so much material." While in the early planning stages, we can expect the forthcoming Spider Woman DVD to include a new transfer from original elements (including some added scenes) and a new Dolby Digital 5.1 track, as well as dubbed tracks in several foreign languages. Weisman also says that stars William Hurt and Sonia Braga, along with director Hector Babenco, will contribute to the DVD, and we certainly can expect a commentary track from Weisman himself at the very least. Additionally, there is an original "making-of" documentary offering interview footage with the late Raul Julia, and Weisman is preparing a new documentary on novelist Manuel Puig, which he promises will offer a rare, intimate look at the writer. Five documentaries in total are planned in what will be a definitive edition.
Of course, an independent DVD release can present its challenges, but Weisman is undeterred. "There's not many movies that have had this trajectory, from Latin American novel to independent film to Broadway musical," he says. "I've decided to go for the Guiness Book of Records for DVD archival content on a film classic." No date is announced, but Weisman says he's thinking sometime in 2002. In the meantime, the architecture for the eventual DVD can be found on www.kissofthespiderwoman.com, under "Presskit."
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