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October 15th, 2007


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02:08 pm
And in film news, it appears that the Buffy: The Vampire Slayer Sing-Along screenings have been lawyered to death. While Clinton McClung (formerly of the Coolidge in Brookline, who'd done a great deal of excellent midnight movie programming) had received permission from Criterion to use the episode at the Coolidge, he'd expanded on the idea and done screenings in New York and had ten more theaters set up. Fox lawyers got wind of that, said "Uh, no" and have served up the Cease & Desist on a silver platter. So if you wanna get together and do "Once More, With Feeling" live, best find a friend with a humongous television set and plenty of room.

I've never really cared much for the whole Buffy phenomenon, myself, and I didn't care to attend any of those screenings, but I know plenty of people who had fun with it, and it's sad to see one of the nicer theater gimmicks in recent memory go the way of the C&D -- especially when it really did amazingly well in the Coolidge midnight shows. I've heard the showings routinely sold out and when the Coolidge's main auditorium sells out, that's sure some box office boffo.

If Fox had any sense, it'd take a cue from the sing-along versions of MGM's Wizard of Oz sing-alongs or even The Sound of Music -- hell, that's a Fox property already!! -- and officially license the screenings, but industry execs and their pet sharks in Legal aren't always the paragon of common sense. Granted, an episode of a television show isn't on par, universal brand recognition-wise, with the Wizard of Oz, but in the right markets (and Clinton totally knew this) the Buffy sing-along event would rake in the money hand over fist.

So it goes.

(20 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:ron_newman
Date:October 15th, 2007 06:21 pm (UTC)
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West Side Story has also had successful sing-a-long screenings.

I don't understand why any studio would refuse this chance for additional revenue.
(Deleted comment)
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From:greenlily
Date:October 15th, 2007 06:51 pm (UTC)
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You beat me to it--the rant about the sheet music wars is supposed to be my line! (I used to work in retail sheet music, back when you could actually buy it in a store. *insert grumbling here*)
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 15th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
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Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!
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From:seph
Date:October 15th, 2007 06:52 pm (UTC)
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Fox has also pulled all the screenings of Firefly. A sad day for Browncoats and... whatever fans of Buffy are called.
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From:stopword
Date:October 15th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
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I just don't get it. I went through the whole series here in Portland at a local beer & burger theater, and they said that they paid a lot of money to Fox to license.

Reminds me of their x-files "no fan fiction" stance.
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 15th, 2007 07:22 pm (UTC)
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Apparently Clinton's plans for mondo screenings went beyond the licensing plan he'd worked out with Criterion.

BUT STILL. Why does everything have to be met with a C&D these days? Why couldn't they say "Let's talk extra licensing, my friend"?
[User Picture]
From:ron_newman
Date:October 15th, 2007 07:25 pm (UTC)
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And if Criterion's license was "X amount of revenue" rather than "X amount of revenue per showing per venue", Criterion was pretty stupid.
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 15th, 2007 07:51 pm (UTC)
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It's likely neither side expected the response to be as big as it was.
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From:stopword
Date:October 15th, 2007 08:07 pm (UTC)
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I wonder if fox isn't planning their own sing-along? Which will come out in 36 months, will tour to no publicity, and just as a fan base starts to figure out how to track it and show up, will be cancelled.
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From:modpixie
Date:October 15th, 2007 09:58 pm (UTC)
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what on god's earth does criterion have to do with buffy? they don't own the rights to it (or else criterion fans would be really angry) and fox generally doesn't play with criterion anyway. unless this "criterion" of which you speak is something other than this criterion.
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 15th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
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McClung said he had sought and received a licensing arrangement from Criterion Pictures for the events, but [Fox Spokesdroid] Alexander said those permissions went beyond what Fox allowed.

Criterion Pictures is, in their words, "...a non-theatrical distributor of feature films licensed for public performance in the United States."
[User Picture]
From:modpixie
Date:October 15th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
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ah, okay. speaking of C&Ds, i'm kind of surprised the criterion collection hasn't gone after this company to change its name...
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From:ron_newman
Date:October 16th, 2007 12:03 am (UTC)
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Who had the name first?
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 16th, 2007 01:37 pm (UTC)
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"That's Hedley Lamarr!"
"What are you complaining about? It's 1865! You can sue her!"
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From:viedma
Date:October 15th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
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If Fox had any sense, it'd take a cue from the sing-along versions of MGM's Wizard of Oz sing-alongs or even The Sound of Music -- hell, that's a Fox property already!! -- and officially license the screenings

Like you said, if anyone involved had a lick of sense.
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From:brak55
Date:October 15th, 2007 08:19 pm (UTC)
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If Fox had any sense

Hehe.



Hahahahaha.



Bwahahahahahahahahahaha!
From:oakenguy
Date:October 16th, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)
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Fox now says that it was fine with everything until it received a ginormous bill from SAG, along with a little note which read "The monies we entitled to, we wants it". (I'm paraphrasing). And when Fox looked at the legalese, SAG was entitled to all that money, since the sing-a-longs were being held in commercial venues and admission was being charged.

If it's true, I actually have a little sympathy for them. They've certainly made mistakes in how they handled it, but they were pretty much screwed no matter what they did.
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From:derspatchel
Date:October 16th, 2007 12:26 pm (UTC)
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I think it's a matter of a small agreement taken to a larger extreme. Criterion's "Yes, you may use it in your theater" perceived as "Yes, go ahead and use it wherever you want." Kind of a horrible assumption to make and incredibly ignorant, and Clinton McClung was anything but ignorant, so either he was attempting to sneak under the radar with his, er, franchise plans, or he really did think he'd been given carte blanche to go ahead and spread it out.

I'm still annoyed that Fox's first reaction is the C&D, Kill You Right There rather than a "Look. You're gonna owe SAG now. Let's work out a new licensing deal." That way SAG gets its share, Fox gets a tidy cut, and a new little cult production runs around the country.
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From:wolodymyr
Date:October 17th, 2007 06:21 am (UTC)
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Exactly.
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From:joyeous
Date:October 16th, 2007 02:18 am (UTC)
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When we did the Buffy parody play a few years back (and Buffy was still on the air then!) we were *really* careful about who we advertized to because we knew we didn't have the rights to it. As someone who's successfully cheated the Buffy Empire out of royalties, trust me when I say, you need to know how to play the game. They got greedy, and they lost.

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