Gearing up for next month’s home video premiere of Watchmen and “300: The Complete Experience,” Warner Bros. invited Zack Snyder to show off some of the innovative special features that are set to debut with both Blu-ray editions.
Hitting July 21st, Watchmen boasts a new twist – Director’s Commentaries with something called a “Director Walk-On”. Watching the film in the mode actually features Snyder stepping in front of the screen and offering video insight. Unlike the standard commentary, the video of Snyder can pause or rewind segments that need greater focus as well as link to various featurettes or still images. 300 offers a similar feature, letting the viewer choose one of three different “commentary” modes, either focusing on the graphic novel, the film’s production, or the history behind the story.
Though WB confirmed that an “Ultimate Edition” will be hitting later (around Christmas), Snyder emphasized that the July edition’s features won’t be repeated and that the later release will be a more or less “movie-only” version, incorporating the “Black Freighter” footage back into the film. Though the later set’s running time will be the longest version possible, Snyder’s preferred cut will be the version hitting July 21st and that that version will contain the greatest special features. While the “Ultimate” version will not include the walk-ons, it will have an exclusive audio-only commentary.
The Director’s Cut version of Watchmen will, meanwhile, get a theatrical release the weekend of July 17th in four cities: Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Minneapolis. Theaters have not yet been announced, but check back soon for full details.
CS/SHH!: Were you aware, the whole production, that the Blu-ray would end up this involved?
Zack Snyder: We knew. We were constantly having meeting and planning, “Oh, this is going to be on the Blu-ray. Because when we did “300,” we asked, “Can the Blu-ray do this?” and they were like, “Yeesh. Not yet.” Because they were still developing the technology to make the Blu-ray. Like on the “300” one, they couldn’t go between the different threads. All that craziness. They couldn’t really do that. Now they’re like, “We’ve got this thing where you basically walk into the movie and the movie shrinks back and you start talking about all these aspects of it.” We were like, “Wow, really? That seems kind of impossible.” They said, “No, no. I think we can do it.” Sure enough, they showed us a little animatic they did and we all thought it would be cool. For me it’s really cool because it’s not like there’s any aspect of “Watchmen” that I haven’t gone over. For instance, in the Comedian’s apartment, everything is designed. I talk about the things that are happening, but there’s a whole other level of stuff I could talk about. It’s kind of the perfect movie for saying, “Oh, we built that Kleenex box” or “We built that table” or “The symbol for whatever was based on the original Crimebusters or the original Minutemen.” It’s cool on a movie like this to be given the format and platform to really go, “If you want to come on and come go and get it in there, you can just put in this thing and you won’t hit the bottom.” It’s kind of fun.
CS/SHH!: There was talk at one point of the Director’s Cut getting a theatrical release. Is that still happening?
Snyder: It is, actually. The weekend before Comic-Con which, I think we determined, is the 17th. It will be at a theater in L.A., one in New York, one in Dallas and one in Minneapolis. It’s a Friday, Saturday, Sunday.
CS/SHH!: So people should start lining up right now?
Snyder: (Laughing) If they care. Now, at Comic-Con, when people line up to ask questions, I can be like, “Next question. Okay, before you ask, did you see the Director’s Cut in theaters, by any chance? Really? So you don’t care? That’s fine. Whatever. Next.”
CS/SHH!: Any thought of going back and doing a badass Blu-ray version of “Dawn of the Dead”?
Snyder: I don’t know. I’ll talk to Universal and see if they’re interested. If they care. One thing about “Dawn of the Dead” is that it was one of their first Blu-rays. It’s not a bad Blu-ray, but I saw it the other night and I was like, “Man, I can do another transfer of
that pretty easily.” But they haven’t talked about it. I’m desperate to do like a maquette series. Like a sort of three-film maquette series with one of the cool maquette companies. Sideshow or one of those guys. Of the three. Like, “Dawn of the Dead” with a cool action scene. Something from “300” and something from “Watchmen” all in the same scale. Similar size and format. That would be real cool.
CS/SHH!: “Watchmen” looks like the standard Blu-ray case while “300” is Warner’s “book” packaging. What’s your ideal Blu-ray packaging?
Snyder: It’s hard. I’m not really sure on the Blu-ray package. It feels like they’re trying to brand Blu-ray and they’re not ready to give that part up yet. DVD doesn’t give a s**t. They make those cool metal tins. They’ll do anything. But I understand that they’ve got to sell Blu-ray players and make people buy them. To get technology in people’s homes before it becomes just downloads.
CS/SHH!: “Watchmen” is also getting a lot of retailer-exclusive packages. Best Buy has plastic Dr. Manhattan and Rorschach heads.
Snyder: Oh my God! Have you seen the Amazon Exclusive Nite Owl ship? It’s ridiculous!
CS/SHH!: Is there already something special in mind for the Ultimate Edition?
Snyder: I don’t know. There’s this version that’s coming out that’s my cut and then the version that comes out at Christmas is basically “The Black Freighter” version which is probably a much-simpler giant movie release but without the walk-ons and everything. It’ll be the only way to see that version of the movie. So if you’re a fan of the complete experience, you’ll have a chance to see it.
CS/SHH!: How does it compare, in terms of special features, to have Frank Miller’s involvement as opposed to Alan Moore’s? That is, I’m guessing Alan Moore didn’t suddenly show up and say, “I’ll do the DVD!”
Snyder: Correctomundo. But it is different. Frank is awesome. He and I get along great. He helped a ton on “300”. Dave [Gibbons] has been nothing but a joy, though. He’s a super-smart guy. He’s just really good at what he does and instantly knows if it’s Watchmeney or not. Is it different not having Alan there to tell us how he feels? I’m sure it is. I don’t know how that experience feels. We’ve probably gone deeper into the material because we didn’t have him. We were just assuming that it has to be awesome. I’ll probably never know. Alan had said long before I came onto the project that he didn’t want anything to do with the project. So the truth is that I said from the beginning that I would not — because what Alan doesn’t want is for anyone to make any assumptions about what his opinions would be. Don’t go, “Oh, he’ll love this!” because that’s it. He’ll kill you if you say that. What I said is, “I will make no assumptions.” My stance to the press has always been, “I don’t know. Zero. I have zero answer to that.” Because I’ll never know. I can’t make any assumptions about if he’ll ever see it or if he cares to see it or anything like that.
CS/SHH!: Todd Haynes said something similar about his Bob Dylan biopic, “I’m Not There”. Even though he had Dylan’s blessing, he knew he would never even know if Dylan had seen it or what he thought.
Snyder: Because he’s never going to say. That’s it. That’s right, exactly.