IIf you believe what you hear in interviews with the crew of "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl," that surprise blockbuster was supposed to be a one-shot deal. No sequel and no trilogy -- at least until the film raked in more than $600 million at the box office.
So when work began simultaneously on two sequels in late 2004, the filmmakers were ill-prepared -- a fact they're not afraid to share in bonus features of the two-disc collector's edition of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest" ($34.99, single-disc version is $29.99; Buena Vista Home Entertainment).
The documentary "Charting the Return" takes viewers into director Gore Verbinski's "war room," where nervous filmmakers are wrestling with the fact that they don't have a script a mere four months before filming begins. We watch the preproduction process as it continues, with the film nearly sinking. Eventually, it worked out as Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley returned in "Dead Man's Chest" for more swashbuckling adventure and laughs.
Depp fans will enjoy the fun featurette, "Captain Jack: From Head to Toe." Click on nearly any part of Depp's costume and makeup to learn facts behind everything from his boots to belt and hat. You'll learn, for instance, how Depp was inspired by football players and nomads for his heavy black eye makeup and that he originally purchased one of the rings he wears at a thrift store for a 1989 Rolling Stone magazine cover shoot.
Megaproducer Jerry Bruckheimer again enjoys taking the opportunity to step from behind the camera into the spotlight. In addition to interviews sprinkled through the extras, Bruckheimer also has his own featurette, a "Producer's Photo Diary." He talks about his love of photography as he shows off his production photos.
Watching "Dead Man's Chest," it's difficult to believe that Davy Jones is not an actor under a really cool mask. We see how the character was created in the interesting featurette, "Meet Davy Jones: Anatomy of a Legend." Through the use of a new technology called "image-based motion capture," animators painstakingly copied the performance of actor Bill Nighy and then added layers of animation (which we see peeled away in one segment). It's quite remarkable
Other bonus material includes commentary by screenwriters Ted Elliot and Terry Rossio and "Bloopers of the Caribbean"; both are included on the single-disc version.
Fans looking forward to the release of the sixth "Rocky" film, "Rocky Balboa," on Dec. 20, have two new DVD sets to enjoy. "Rocky: Collector's Edition" ($26.98, MGM) is a two-disc set with new commentaries by Sylvester Stallone; boxing trainer Lou Duva and commentator Bert Sugar. A 90-minute documentary is included, as are featurettes on Duva, Sugar, composer Bill Conti and makeup with Michael Westmore.
Can't get enough of the Italian Stallion? Get the "Rocky Anthology" ($49.98, MGM), a collection of the first five "Rocky" films.
There may only be one Jack Bauer, but the drama "24" continues to have an outstanding, rotating supporting cast. "24: Season Five" ($59.98, Fox) is worth watching just to see Emmy nominee Gregory Itzen as the frail president who wasn't as feeble as he appeared.
This seven-disc set has 23 extended/deleted scenes; commentaries; a season six prequel and featurettes.
It's been a long time coming, but "St. Elsewhere: Season One" ($39.98, Fox) has finally arrived on DVD. This groundbreaking medical drama showcased the early talents of Denzel Washington, Tim Robbins and David Morse. This four-disc set has 22 episodes plus featurettes on Robbins, Morse and "St. Elsewhere: The Place to Be."
> Coming Tuesday
"Air Buddies" (Buena Vista), "The Devil Wears Prada" (Fox), "The Fox and the Hound 2" (Buena Vista), "House of Sand" (Sony), "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" (Westlake Entertainment) and "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" (Sony).
> DVD Extra
MATERIAL GIRLS: Hilary and Haylie Duff star in this lighthearted comedy about two sisters who go from riches to nearly rags. Extras: a making-of featurette, behind-the-scenes footage, director commentary and Hilary's new music video. ($29.98, MGM. Available Tuesday.)