Thursday, March 10, 2005

Sad News for one of my favorites

It is tragic that some really good concepts never make it on-screen, because some Big Enterprises doesn't believe in the concept (he mostly won't understand anyway). This very sad thing happened to one of my favorite Screenwriters and Directors Jay Michael Strazynski. (

The cinema off-spring of his famous Sci-Fi series "Babylon 5" has been frozen for infinite times. He wouldn't have done The Memories of the Shadows anyway, but he would have let in some very talented people. And if the master himself grants this project his blessing, it couldn't be all to be bad.
Sadly, some jerk of Warner Brothers, didn't want to support the project and so it didn't get the proper support it needed.

The full story can be read here, written by the master himself:

Here, some interesting excerpts that I want to discuss later:

It's worth mentioning that I, not WB, own the rights to a B5movie. When we were
negotiating the original B5 deal -- by whose termsI will never see a dime in
profit -- the one thing they did let me havewere the movie rights, figuring
they'd never be worth anything in thelong run.
As you can see, Warner Brothers never had the rights to a cinema movie. Perhaps that is why they wouldn't allow any support to be given to the B5-Movie-Makers, because they would have only limited control over the rights and else.

Money shouldn't be the problem, if you believe the words of JMS himself:

That's the great irony of the situation. The criteria told to us rightup front
while we were producing B5 was that each of the series on PTENhad to show a
profit *in that year* in order to stay on the air and berenewed. So we'd have
these meetings with studio heads who werecongratulating us on how much money the show was making for them(again, while we were still making for it), and then
look at me,realize what they'd said, and hurriedly add, "Though technically
we'restill in the red."The show, all in, cost about $110 million to make. Each
year of itsoriginal run, we know it showed a profit because they TOLD us so.
And in one case, they actually showed us the figures. It's now been on theair
worldwide for ten years. There's been merchandise, syndication,cable, books, you
name it. The DVDs grossed roughly half a BILLIONdollars (and that was just after they put out S5, without all of the S5sales in).So what does my last profit
statement say?

We're $80 million in the red.

So, who might be the liar in this game? Even a mathematical no-brainer could calculate 110 Millions out + 500 Millions in is not equal to -80 Million dollar in budget!
Therefore I believe that the studio had some private problems with JMS or the actual team that makes the movie.
Even if they didn't want to give out too much money, the movie could have been made by adding on the surplus of the Income from Babylon 5 (which they knew of and left aside for some "Special purpose" ?!). I think this is the dishonest behaviour of business men today, that gives rise to so many angry hatred. I can partly understand it, because it comes from a justified base.
On the other side, the money is property of Warner Brothers Inc. and this means they can use it on projects totally disconnected from any Babylon 5 project.

Final conclusion: It is a sad death for a probably wonderful cinema project and a wonderful story. Perhaps Warner Brothers will see its mistake and take up the deal some time later. They'd miss a lot of things and even some profit.


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