Fox and Universal Licenses

The scuttlebutt on Criterion, Eclipse, and Janus Films. Lists and polls are STRONGLY discouraged.
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Michael Strangeways
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#1 Post by Michael Strangeways » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:35 pm

We all know that Criterion had deals with both Fox and Universal to release some of their films. My question is, are those deals completed or is there more to come? Is is feasible to hope that if they are completed, that Criterion is negotiating to renew them? Fox has been quite good about releasing many of its older classic titles recently, but Universal seems to have pretty much given up the ghost on releasing anything made before 1960 unless it's a Classic Monster or Abbot & Costello and seem to be very indifferent to its pre '49 Paramount catalogue, much to everyones horror, anger, and regret. Can we dare hope that maybe Criterion will get to release 'Easy Living' or 'Bluebeard's Eighth Wife' or 'Midnight' or 'The Major and the Minor'? Or are relations between Criterion and Universal strained at the moment? Wasn't there rumours of bad blood about trying to release 'Shanghai Express'? Does anyone know the answers to these questions and if not, do we dare to ask the powers that be?

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solaris72
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#2 Post by solaris72 » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:45 pm

I seriously doubt relations are strained between Universal and Criterion, since Dazed and Confused is more or less confirmed as forthcoming.

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#3 Post by ianungstad » Tue Sep 27, 2005 8:57 pm

Yeah Dazed and Confused and apparently She's All That or whatever that Spike Lee movie is, are both coming out next year, so I would assume we'll see a number of great collabs between criterion and universal in the years to come. Does anyone know what was the last Fox title criterion released was?

Anyways I hope there are still a few titles to come out from criterion/new line cinema. Short Cuts, My Own Private Idaho, Hoop Dreams, Naked, An Angel at My table are all great flicks. Looking forward to more!

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Jeff
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#4 Post by Jeff » Tue Sep 27, 2005 10:07 pm

ianungstad wrote:Does anyone know what was the last Fox title criterion released was?

The most recent Fox title was Unfaithfully Yours, which was released in July of this year. To the best of my recollection, the most recent Universal was Videodrome, released in August of 2004. All of the New Line titles mentioned by Ira Deutchman have been released, and I suspect that deal is done.

The deal that seems to be dead in the water is the one that was announced between Criterion and Wellspring several years ago. The last time that arrangement bore fruit was in October of 2003 with Schizopolis (Jules and Jim was licensed from MK2). Mulvaney's assertion that the Rohmer films aren't on the schedule doesn't bode well.

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dx23
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#5 Post by dx23 » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:12 pm

And there is Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, that according to Roger Ebert, was licensed to Criterion by FOX. Still, there hasn't been much talk about this release in a long time.

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justeleblanc
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#6 Post by justeleblanc » Tue Sep 27, 2005 11:49 pm

solaris72 wrote:I seriously doubt relations are strained between Universal and Criterion, since Dazed and Confused is more or less confirmed as forthcoming.

I hope that means that there's hope for a Lubitsch box of his early musicals, or maybe Leison's MIDNIGHT. Last time I checked those were all Universal.

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#7 Post by Narshty » Fri Sep 30, 2005 8:07 am

I'm waiting for The Scarlet Empress to go OOP, seeing how Universal seem to have just remastered all the Sternberg/Dietrich titles themselves and they hate having competitive versions on the market (witness The Bank Dick and the brief moratorium of Charade). Personally, I'm very happy about this - Universal are doing superb work on the transfers of their classic catalogue titles at the moment (look at the recent Lugosi and Cooper collections, all from the 30s and positively glowing with nitrate goodness).

Incidentally, I only just noticed the other night that "20th Century Fox Home Video" are thanked for one of the Siodmak trailers on The Killers from the start of 2003. No-one caught it.

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justeleblanc
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#8 Post by justeleblanc » Fri Sep 30, 2005 3:19 pm

As much as its nice to see Universal release their back catalogue, I wish they released titles individially and weren't fascist about your having to buy box sets... maybe I'm being too picky.

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#9 Post by djali999 » Fri Sep 30, 2005 7:42 pm

JusteLeblanc wrote:As much as its nice to see Universal release their back catalogue, I wish they released titles individially and weren't fascist about your having to buy box sets... maybe I'm being too picky.

If it's a boxset in the sense that their Cooper or Lugosi titles were "box sets", I'll happily support them on it. When you can get 5 or 6 titles for the price of one and a half from a similar studio, I'm willing to have a go at it. I bought the Cooper set for Beau Geste and Lives of a Bengal Lancer and found myself fascinated and haunted by Peter Ibbetson, as well as the handsome Design for Living. Who woulda known? Probably would never had seen those otherwise.

Anyway I've done my homework and here's hoping they'll issue a Billy Wilder "Franchise Collection" one day - They've got about six of his titles including Double Indemnity, The Major and the Minor, Forgein Affair, Five Graves to Cairo and others I'll be willing to shell out $25 for in a nice package with decent transfers regardless of extras.

Of course I'd rather have a nice Criterion of a few of those, but a man has to be realistic sometimes and it'd sure as hell be a nice break on my poor bank account.

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#10 Post by Fletch F. Fletch » Fri Oct 07, 2005 9:31 am

dx23 wrote:And there is Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, that according to Roger Ebert, was licensed to Criterion by FOX. Still, there hasn't been much talk about this release in a long time.

The folks over at the Mobius message board have an interesting thread going about what went down with BVD:

Siouxzan Perry, liason to the Russ Meyer starlets:

After months of negotiations, petitions, and often unanswered questions, Fox has decided not to enlist the participation of any surviving cast members or personnel of Meyer's BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS for its upcoming DVD release. At this time, the only extra will be the oft-mentioned Roger Ebert commentary track that had been recorded for The Criterion Collection. Criterion will not be releasing the film on their label; Fox apparently bought back the commentary when they decided to do the disc themselves.

This easily represents the mother of blown opportunities in catalog DVD presentations. Siouxzan had lined up almost every surviving cast member, plus vocalist Lynn Carey and music director Stu Phillips, and a treasure trove of photos and memorabilia, to make this the blown-out special edition which Meyer's fans have clamored for, which the UK Arrow Films DVDs have aspired to, and which we will currently never see from the current stewards of Meyer's assets (see Matt Allison's thread for those sad details). But it would appear Fox is more interested in trying to spend as little time, effort, and money possible into releasing this enduring cult classic.

Furthermore, someone else writes:

First off, Criterion's interest was not rumor. Roger Ebert confirmed that it was them who arranged for the recording of his commentary. And during the recording of Michael Sarne's commentary for MYRA BRECKINRIDGE, engineers at the session also confirmed Criterion's involvement in the planned release. Final terms with Fox had never fully been cemented, hence their reluctance to make any sort of final public statement.

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#11 Post by oldsheperd » Fri Oct 07, 2005 10:44 am

I'm still hoping Criterion gets The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

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#12 Post by clutch44 » Fri Oct 07, 2005 11:19 am

oldsheperd wrote:I'm still hoping Criterion gets The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

Any chance that Frank Tashlin will be added to the collection? A box set that included The Lieutenant Wore Skirts, The Girl Can't Help It, and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter would be nice.

I'm afraid we do not hold the DVD rights to any of the titles you mention.

Best,
JM

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#13 Post by Jaime_Weinman » Mon Oct 10, 2005 12:24 am

Young Mr. Lincoln is a Fox title coming from Criterion.

I generally don't mind Fox doing titles themselves -- they do good transfers and decent features at low, low prices (or is that "everyday low prices?"). They don't seem to have a great strategy for planning which films to release or finding some of the true classics in their catalogue -- they are sitting on the Tashlin titles and make no move in their direction. It was a sad day when I heard Rock Hunter wouldn't be a Criterion.

If I had to pick a non-Tashlin Fox title that I wish Criterion would do, it's Henry King's Margie, one of the most beautiful-looking movies of the '40s, funny, and an ambiguous portrait of changing attitudes to women's place in the world (are we supposed to feel happy that Margie is a wife and mother at the end, or should we feel, like her grandmother, that she could have been President of the United States?). But it's not very well known and has never even been on VHS, so the chances of a regular Fox DVD release are practically nil.

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#14 Post by Harold Gervais » Mon Oct 10, 2005 11:49 pm

Wasn't Croenberg's Crash supposed to be part of the Criterion/New Line deal?

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#15 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:02 am

God, I hope so.

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pzman84
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#16 Post by pzman84 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 12:27 am

One thing I keep wondering about: why hasn't Universal released more classics on DVD? I mean it has a catalogue second only to Warner's and yet they have been slow to release their pre-1949 Paramounts and their older films. It is not like they are all in very bad shape. Many are in the UCLA film archives and are perserved very well (the Balboa Theater is going to show a lot of pre-code films from Paramount in November). However, other than the occasional Criterion title or release by themselves (in many cases, to cross promote one of their films comming to theaters), they have not released their great collection. Even MGM, when it more than often gave bare bones non-anamorphic transfers to their discs, at least released a significant proportion of their UA films on DVD. Does Universal not care about the smaller but nonetheless very profitable market that comes from classic films?

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dx23
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#17 Post by dx23 » Tue Oct 11, 2005 1:00 am

why hasn't Universal released more classics on DVD?

Because the company is run by imbeciles who don't know shit about films or the business. They have the percieved misconception that there is no business in releasing old black and white films, beside popular classics like the Hitchcock films or something in the line of To Kill a Mockingbird. The monkeys running Universal are cheapskates and they believe that only recently released films are going to make profit when they are released on DVD. They only release movies that play on theaters and then re-releases them several times when sequel comes out or when some actor becomes incredibly popular, hence the multiple dips on American Pie, Pitch Black, Half Baked, and Meet the Parents DVDs. Universal has now become famous for also releasing two-sided DVDs that have poor quality and tend to skip, or don't work at all. The recent DVDs have forced trailers, and the least amount of extras possible. And then there is also those "cute" names the like to put on their releases and take DVDs out-of print for no reason.

It is sad, because Universal DVDs were pretty decent at the beggining of the industry boom, but instead of following the similar path that Warner and even Fox have taken on their classic film catalog, the have gone the other way around. I'm still awaiting the long delayed Double Indemnity re-release.

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#18 Post by Narshty » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:31 pm

Narshty wrote:I'm waiting for The Scarlet Empress to go OOP, seeing how Universal seem to have just remastered all the Sternberg/Dietrich titles themselves and they hate having competitive versions on the market (witness The Bank Dick and the brief moratorium of Charade). Personally, I'm very happy about this - Universal are doing superb work on the transfers of their classic catalogue titles at the moment (look at the recent Lugosi and Cooper collections, all from the 30s and positively glowing with nitrate goodness).

Scratch that.

According to Robert Harris over at HTF, Universal are releasing a Marlene Dietrich collection next year, which will include Morocco, Blonde Venus and The Devil is a Woman along with a couple of other non-Sternberg titles. Now that the Criterion/Universal relationship is back on with Dazed and Confused, I reckon we'll see an upgrade of The Scarlet Empress using Universal's restoration (ala Charade) and the long-awaited Shanghai Express too. Cross your fingers, everyone.

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Derek Estes
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#19 Post by Derek Estes » Thu Oct 13, 2005 1:36 am

If Robert Harris is right, and I'm sure he is, and if Narshty you are correct in placing the other two films, I will be over-over joyed! These films have been heartbreakingly absent on DVD. My fingers, and toes are crossed.

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Gregory
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#20 Post by Gregory » Thu Oct 13, 2005 3:21 pm

If Harris's statements are true, what's to become of Sternberg's Dishonored in R1?
EDIT: Reading what he said below, I now see that the set could include a little more than I originally thought. Let's hope so.
Last edited by Gregory on Thu Oct 13, 2005 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#21 Post by Narshty » Thu Oct 13, 2005 4:36 pm

Found it:
Speaking of "languishing" Paramount productions in Universal's vaults....

The gates appear to be opening, which is great news for cinephiles and collectors.

I have it on authority that the first third of 2006 will see the release of three sets: a Carole Lombard collection, A Mae West collection, and a Marlene Dietrich collection.

If memory serves the Dietrich set will be inclusive of films like Morocco, Blonde Venus, Devil is a Woman, Desire and Golden Earrings.

This might also be considered good news for Sternberg afficianadoes.

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#22 Post by milkcan » Thu Oct 13, 2005 11:34 pm

Universal + Eclipse Label = Blast of Silence on DVD with a clean transfer. It must happen!

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#23 Post by Ted Todorov » Fri Oct 14, 2005 1:40 pm

Were there any Preston Sturges films left to be licensed from Universal -- Christmas in July; The Great McGinty; Hail The Conquering Hero???

The prospect of Criterions is keeping me from picking up the R2-UK box.

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#24 Post by djali999 » Mon Oct 24, 2005 2:32 am

Ted Todorov wrote:Were there any Preston Sturges films left to be licensed from Universal -- Christmas in July; The Great McGinty; Hail The Conquering Hero???

The prospect of Criterions is keeping me from picking up the R2-UK box.

Universal owns all of the remaining Sturges, the best I can tell.. all were issued on VHS by Universal and they recently put out a decent disc of The Palm Beach Story.

I badly need some more Sturges right now, so here's hoping.

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#25 Post by Taketori Washizu » Wed Oct 26, 2005 4:10 pm

Anyone think Criterion could obtain Elia Kazan's Viva Zapata for release in the future since it is a Fox title? It's due for a proper DVD, and I would like to see one Brando title in the collection.

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