Why pay for something you could have watched for free a couple of months ago? Because it's better this way.
What the heck are Peter Jackson's Production Diaries? A groundbreaking new way for movie fans to get involved and keep track of the movies their interested in, while they're still being made.
Every three days or so during the filming of King Kong, short, 4 minute or so videos were released from the set online to fans via the website KongIsKing.net. Dubbed "production diaries" each video showed off something different. One day it might be an interview with Jack Black, the next a feature on set design, the next a prank video in which Peter Jackson talks about plans for a really horrible sounding version of Son of Kong. Hopefully, you've all figured out by now it was a just a joke.
Universal has now taken all of those short production diary videos, and thrown them in a fantastic, fan friendly DVD set. For them, doing so serves two purposes: They get to make money selling the DVD, and they get yet another tool to help promote the theatrical release of the film. Great. But is it worth watching? Oh yes.
Even if (like me) you saw most of these when they were first released for free online this is a must own for any fan of PJ or Kong. Sure, I watched them online as they were initially released, but they were never this good. The work a lot better this way, viewable as a single, continuous stream of images from a movie in the midst. Watching them in order, things suddenly fit together. . It's a lot like watching the documentaries on the Lord of the Rings DVDs… only better because it's more off the cuff, more organic, and a lot less censored. They were a nice diversion watched in singles, but in a streaming sequence they're not just groundbreaking, they're genius.
Wow, what a set. Let's start with the packaging, which looks a lot like a treasure chest. Well it isn't. It looks cool, but it's made out of pretty flimsy cardboard. Who knows how well it'll hold up. Doesn't matter though, it looks pretty cool and the packaging inside it is even better. Pull the top off the chest and you pull out a sturdy cardboard box decorated with the film's logo. With it, is a plastic sleeve containing limited edition prints from the film, including a certificate of authenticity. Open the cardboard box and you'll actually get to the DVDs, contained in a really awesome looking case that not only holds both of the set's discs, but a thick, detailed guide to everything that's on them. The guide is held in a nice looking metal clipboard contraption, that gives the whole case a really unique, sturdy, period look. It's pretty unique.
Alright, so great cast. Whatever. What's on the discs? They're pretty straightforward. Two discs full of production diaries, accessed via a Kong-decorated menu. What's great though is that they've arranged the videos so that you can either play them all at once in sequence (that's your best option), play them one at a time, or select them via category. They've sorted them out and put them together by section, based on what the diary is about. Pretty cool right?
There's not much else on here, but then what did you expect? The reason for this set's existence is the production diaries, and there's only so many ways to deliver them. MCA has gone way out of their way to deliver them in the best format possible. This is a really nice set for any fan of King Kong, or just Peter Jackson's work in general. It doesn't hurt that it'll look pretty cool on your shelf too.