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12-23-2011 @ 6:13PM
FILM HISTORY BUFFS LISTEN UP\First error in this article is to say that George Lucas "kept" the rights to the sequel to Star Wars. A little know fact is that this was a LEGAL CONTRACT ERROR by the lawyers at 20th Century Fox. After the first Star Wars film was such a big Box office draw. all Fox could do is fire a few lawyers and be real nice to Mr. Lucas. EVERY contract a major writes when they fund a film contains a sequel rights clause. They just left it out by mistake. So we are talking about a multi-billion dollar error.Having a screenwriter put in charge of everything led to some real problems. More importantly, Fox hired Barry Diller after that and he fired everyone AND I MEAN EVERYONE that had any knowledge on how to make film unless their specific department was way in the black. Craft departments were shutdown wholesale. So Mr. Lucas got all the money from the sequels and everyone at the film company got canned because of a legal contract error. Kind of comparable to FOX's film Cleopatra [Elizabeth Taylor; Richard Burton] that cost so much money to make it could not possibly take in that amount at the box office and THAT forced FOX to sell all of Century City, which used to be 100% Fox's backlot. Only darrly Zanuck coming in with the film "The Longest Day" , and his subsequent work saved Fox. The Zanuck sound stage at Fox is still where many films are mixed today. I was privileged to meet the head mixer many years ago Don Bassman [Hunt for Red October], who died later from cancer. he survived the "Diller firings" because he was in such high demand to mix films, he got paid a million dollar mix fee. Sound is half the film and producers were willing to pay anything to guarantee the film came out right.In short. Film companies tend to go from one disaster to the other. At this point in time they are 99% merely a distribution hub. That they are good at. Film Production... not so much.
12-23-2011 @ 6:36PM
So it is a mistake to say Lucas kept the rights because a common business practice was not employed and this contract error allowed Lucas to keep the rights? That aside, I almost wonder if he casually changed the contract to exclude that and change something else, allowing him to have to get fresh signatures and Fox agreed with that other change, not realizing the omission of the sequel clause.Either way, Lucas has made so much money that to even look in his direction for licensing will cost you, so regardless of the reason he has a stranglehold on his IP, he does have said stranglehold.
12-24-2011 @ 2:13PM
I thought Lucas took the money from Episode IV to build "Industrial Light & Magic", which he used to do the special effects for episodes V and beyond.Also, Lucas personally canvassed film production companies to find one that would give him exclusive rights over everything about the brand name. Fox just happened to be the sucker.
12-24-2011 @ 4:46PM
While it is standard to have sequel rights clause, you should bear in mind that this wasn't the case in the 70's. Jaws and then Star Wars literally invented the concept of a "blockbuster film." After the end of the studio system, Hollywood was in it's post-classical, "American New Wave" era, which was defined by alternative, auteur-istic film making with very little focus on franchising or building brands. Rather, directors focused on making movies that were stand-alone artistic vehicles. This era lasted from the late 60s until the end of the 1970s. While it's easy to look back and realize their mistakes in hindsight, studios had very little, if any, experience developing a film as an intellectual property instead of just a movie. Here's an excerpt from wikipedia:"In retrospect, Jaws (1975) and Star Wars (1977) marked the beginning of the end for the New Hollywood era. With their unprecedented box-office successes, Steven Spielberg's and George Lucas's films jumpstarted Hollywood's blockbuster mentality, giving studios a new paradigm of how to make money in the changing commercial landscape. The focus on high-concept premises, with greater concentration on tie-in merchandise (such as toys), spin-offs into other media (such as soundtracks), and the use of sequels (which had been made more respectable by Coppola's The Godfather Part II), all showed the studios how to make money in the new environment."Those two, "unprecedented" (read: without precedent) films changed the way the business worked and how they made money. What's not mentioned is that these films also pioneered wide release patterns, making a national film release a viable option to turn profits.On the original topic. When the World of Warcraft novels are written, are they done so as just a work for hire, with Blizzard taking responsibility for publishing? Or are the rights acquired by the author/publisher independently and royalties are paid through them?
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