“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” just won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. It was also just released digitally (it’ll be on Blu-ray on March 19th), which means that you can now forensically comb through the film and find everything that you probably missed on your first or fifth or tenth viewing of the truly incredible film. (With great power comes great responsibility.) If there was ever a movie that deserved such attention, it’s “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse”
To honor the movie’s home video debut, we visited the Sony Pictures Animation campus and while there we got to sit down with ‘Spider-Verse’ filmmakers (and now Oscar winners!) Rodney Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti. Find out what their favorite Easter eggs are and just how close we got to a big screen reference to doomed Broadway musical “Spider-Man: Into the Dark.” Sobering. Truly.
Moviefone: We have probably the most important question that can be asked: is there a “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” reference in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse?”
[Rodney Rothman, Peter Ramsey and Bob Persichetti]: There was!
What was it?
Ramsey: Remember, when they were at Aunt May’s …
Rothman: We had a scene at Aunt May’s, before Miles comes running back in, after what happens with an important family member, they were watching a movie about that dimension’s Spider-Man. And other people started talking about who played Spider-Man in their dimension. Then Peter B. Parker said, “There was a musical in my dimension written by Bono.” And everyone laughs and he says, “I’m serious. I’m not kidding you guys. It really happened.”
Persichetti: It was the ultimate punchline.
Rothman: Among other things, we found that after a super dramatic moment, we didn’t want to then pull out and do wacky Spider-Man jokes and then do a super-dramatic moment.
Let’s talk about the extended version of the movie that’s included in this release. I’m assuming every stage of animation is represented.
Persichetti: Oh for sure but it’s not simply peeling back the layers of our process. The alt version of the movie is … we had a three-hour version of this movie. This is a cut of that that incorporates as much finished film with it. So our editors went back in after we killed them, they spent a couple more weeks going, “So you want to do this alt version for the Blu-ray? Okay.” They re-cut things that had been thrown away for a year and a half and we had to look at the connective tissue. We even recorded a few lines with Jake Johnson just to make the alt thing flow. Because we had such …
Ramsey: There were some radical differences.
Persichetti: You’ll trip out when you see the movie.
Were there things that were fully animated?
Persichetti: There’s a scene that is fully animated, yeah.
Is there anything that you are particularly excited about seeing in this version?
Ramsey: Yeah, that scene.
Persichetti: We always lovingly called it, because it takes place on a billboard, “The Billboard Scene.” But it’s a really fantastic scene between Miles and Peter. That was a scene that is most emblematic of this process. Because that’s a scene that we put in different spots in this movie for a very long time because we loved it so much.
Ramsey: At one time it had a real, definite purpose.
Persichetti: 100%. And that purpose was lost because we accomplished some of that somewhere else and then we were just hung on, “Oh wow look at the performances, look at the connection, let’s just hang out with them because it’s so much fun.” And it’s really engaging. But the movie kept going, “Dude, we don’t need this.” Finally, we took it out and said, “I guess we don’t need this.” But now it’s in! But that’s the thing that’s cool about this. You’re going to see all the things and people will recognize why the choices were made. You’ll see this and think, Yeah, that’s cool, but it’s better without it.
Ramsey: If you want to fanboy or fangirl out with those two characters, that scene is going to be absolute heaven.
Obviously, with home video, people can free-frame. What is the Easter egg you’re most excited about people discovering?
Rothman: One I really like is … Miles’ copy of “Great Expectations,” the image on the front of it is an image from “Great Expectations” that actually visually sets up something that’s going to happen to him about 15 minutes later. It’s Pip in a cemetery with Magwich grabbing his shoulder. That was something that Peter called out after we had chosen “Great Expectations.” It was like, oh if we can get ten more things like this …
Persichetti: It’ll seem like we planned it! [laughs]
Ramsey: I always get a kick out of peoples’ names on their favorite lists in their phones but the other cool thing is all the Stan Lee cameos. I’m really intrigued because I don’t know where all of those are.
Persichetti: Yeah it’s a real frame-by-frame situation. You’ve got to click, click, click and you’ll see … We lost count how many times he’s in there. Other than that, cameo-wise, there’s little tiny things.
Ramsey: Oh yeah, there’s people on our crew that only we know who we are.
Persichetti: Yeah, there’s a bunch of people on our crew -- including us! -- who are in there. Doc Ock-wise, there’s a version of Doc Ock, that you just see tentacles and grabbers with Gwen, and then there’s a version at the very beginning that’s not our Doc Ock. If you just go a little slower, you can see it.
“Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse” is currently out on digital HD and will be on Blu-ray on March 19th.