Sure, there’s that matter of never winning an Oscar. But Spike Lee also covets another symbol of Hollywood prestige: a deluxe edition of one of his films on disc. With pricey versions of Taxi Driver, The Last Picture Show, and others, the Voyager Company produces the Criterion Collection, elaborate packages with commentary by the directors and background material. They are an auteur’s dream — the chance to be involved in the canonization of your own films.
A zealous fan of these discs — ”I own everything Criterion has” — Lee pines for one of his own. ”I’d love to do a letterboxed version of Do the Right Thing,” he says, and ”do narration on it.” While Voyager is interested in the film, negotiations with MCA/Universal (which owns Right Thing) have yet to be fruitful. ”MCA feels (Voyager) doesn’t pay enough,” chides Lee. Although MCA/ Universal declines to comment, Voyager suggests sales projections, rather than fee formulas, have been the real inhibitor. As Lee says dryly, ”I’m not Steven Spielberg.”