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WoT Pilot: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

WoT Pilot: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

By on Feb 10, 2015 in Fiction, Film, News | 0 comments

Did you hear about the stealthy “pilot” for a tv series based on the much-acclaimed Wheel of Time series? Probably, as blogs on several geek and nerd/science and entertainment sites have spent time on the subject. Aside from the general surprise at a rather low-budget production for such a big property (airing without fanfare, in the middle of the night, as paid programming), is there much else to talk about? Well, there were two added twists: the nature of the production & broadcast are believed to have been a gambit to retain rights to the property by Red Eagle Entertainment, while author Robert Jordan’s wife appears to have commented that she was not aware of any such official project. This is all made very interesting by two additional twists: in 2008 it was reported that Universal Pictures paid a large amount of money for the film and television rights to the property, with Red Eagle handling the potential production, and the rights were set to revert back to the original owners as of this Wednesday (02/11/2015). This latter sort of clause has a history, notably with several contracts Marvel Comics engaged in before their eventual success in the film industry, allowing the owner of a work to regain property it has licensed to other parties if those parties don’t do anything with it. Who Is Red Eagle? A few of the articles I linked to give much more information, but here is a summary. Red Eagle, the company that optioned the film rights for the first novel back in the early 2000s (I have seen the year 2000 mentioned several times, but cannot find confirmation of that particular year), has been the source of numerous disappointments when it comes to the Wheel of Time property. There were short-lived comic book series, promises of videogames followed by mishandled crowdfunding initiatives or missed opportunities, and even Jordan himself wrote scathingly of the company before he died. But Can They Even Do That? Maybe. And it seems more likely than a few people are making it out to be, unless the people in charge of Red Eagle are far more foolish than they seem (yes, even given the above). Until we find out more about the relationship of any production agreements or...

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Should Authors Panic Over ‘Gravity’ Case?

Should Authors Panic Over ‘Gravity’ Case?

By on Feb 2, 2015 in Announcements, Film, News | 0 comments

  Not yet. Excuse me while I brush off a bit of the dust on my keyboard. Now, if you are a creative type or movie buff that hasn’t seen articles with big headlines about Tess Gerritsen‘s suit against Warner Brothers over money she claims is owed due to the production of the film Gravity [I originally linked to the film’s official site, but dislike websites that auto-play sound]. Some blogs aimed at writers and screenwriters have made a larger deal of the impact this could have on future contracts with studios. Why? Well because it looks like if you sell a property to a studio and that studio later gets acquired by another company, the new owner could use your work without having to honor the original studio’s responsibilities. And that would be bad. I just don’t think we’re there, and any talk of precedent (in the important legal sense) is probably extremely premature considering that all we have a is an order based on preliminary motions.   So What’s Going On? The crux of Gerritsen’s position is this: 1) The rights to her book were purchased by the Katja Motion Picture Corp., an arm of New Line Productions, Inc. 2) The contract between her and Katja was guaranteed by New Line, who it was understood would actually be making the movie; she claims that Katja was a wholly-owned subsidiary of New Line that it used to acquire and develop literary property. 3) The movie was in the works with, unknown to Gerritsen at the time, the future director of Gravity attached to direct and he would have been given her book as well as additional material. 4) She created a modified version of the story for production that’s more like the movie than the book initially was. 5) The director and his son sometime later wrote a screenplay that not only is very similar to her novel, including a fidelity to scientific details, but to the additional modifications she produced for Katja. 6) Warner Brothers acquired control of New Line and Katja, and therefor all its rights and obligations regarding her work. 7) A year later the director and son transferred all their rights to their Gravity project to Warner Brothers. 8) Her...

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Documentaries & Drama: The D&D Story

Documentaries & Drama: The D&D Story

By on Jul 16, 2014 in Film, General, RPGs | 0 comments

Dungeons & Dragons is the most famous roleplaying game in the world, and when a group of people decided to make a documentary about it in preparation for the 40th anniversary there was a good deal of support. How much support? The Kickstarter for Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary brought in $195,480. Things seemed to be going well. Then, last year, there was a falling out between the producers. Followed by an announcement that two of the producers would be doing a documentary, on the same subject as the original, called The Great Kingdom. The Kickstarter for The Great Kingdom has 4 days left at this point and has only raised roughly half of the money required to hit the campaign’s goal. Why? Many reasons, I’m sure, but one of them is likely the lawsuit. A number of sites have provided extensive coverage of the details as they came to light (such as The Verge and the very prolific Michael Tresca over a Examiner.com, but the legal issues boil down to an accusation that the producers who have split away are using material they have no rights to in the production of this unrelated film. The producers of The Great Kingdom claim to have used nothing but their own work: We started from scratch, raising private funds and some of our own to get us to this point. We knew there was an amazing story to tell. And like any complicated story, there will always be room for different interpretations. But their former partners disagree, in an update to backers: We would never object to competition, our position is that they have wrongfully attempted to use the assets of this film in their own, competing documentary. The sad part is that this all comes after a settlement that was reached when the relationships within the original company went awry, and is exactly the sort of thing that can happen when a business falls apart… and it will always, always be worse if those involved either haven’t agreed upon a contractual relationship or (more commonly, maybe) paid attention to their contractual responsibilities to one another. The sad part is that for such a relatively small industry, there is a history of intense disagreements and legal...

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The War of the Lord of the Rings

The War of the Lord of the Rings

By on Jun 11, 2014 in Announcements, Film, News | 0 comments

Big licenses are often a source of serious conflicts, especially when the property has a strong following or is worth enormous amounts of money. In the case of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works, primarily The Lord of the Rings but also The Hobbit, both cultural cache and lucrative deals are a factor. A History of Trouble This has led to a number of lawsuits surrounding those properties, with a number of the bigger claims occurring in the 2000s, mostly revolving around people involved with the rights to the film feeling like they weren’t getting what they were owed. In the news now is the battle between the J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Limited and Warner Bros. over whether Warner has overstepped the bounds of its license (with Warner Bros. counterclaiming that the Estate has harmed Warner by improperly revoking certain rights). Why Now? While I am certain that there are many reasons that this suit is picking up steam, and you can click through to The Hollywood Reporter here to see some of the action, what it really boils down to is Warner’s recent move to license tie-ins that include online gambling games that use Tolkien’s works as a theme. Not only does that have the already-protective Estate upset, reason enough for them to challenge these download or cloud-based products, but they claim that it and works like it violate the limited right to create “tangible” products given to the studio under the agreement. An Old Agreement Apparently the source of contention is what the specific terms of that agreement were or meant, something you would hope to be contained in the four corners of the document itself, but with evidence (in the form of witnesses and work-product) being fought for tooth-and-nail by both sides it seems that things are messier than outsiders could have imagined. This is likely in part because the agreement is decades old, meaning that applying it to the current markets using the language of its day opens up room of interpretation… but we can’t know for certain right...

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