By The Associated Press - Friday, January 11, 2013 - 0 Comments
SAN FRANCISCO – Superman belongs to Warner Bros., according to the latest legal victory…
SAN FRANCISCO – Superman belongs to Warner Bros., according to the latest legal victory granting the film and television studio complete commercial control of the lucrative Superman franchise.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals unanimously ruled Thursday that the heirs of Superman’s co-creator Jerome Siegel must abide by a 2001 letter written by the family’s attorney accepting Warner Bros.’ offer for their 50 per cent share of Superman. Though the five-page letter was never formalized into a contract, the appeals court said it was still binding.
“Statements from the attorneys for both parties establish that the parties had undertaken years of negotiations, that they had resolved the last outstanding point in the deal during a conversation on Oct. 15, 2001, and that the letter accurately reflected the material terms they had orally agreed to on that day,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote for the panel.
The ruling Thursday undoes a 2008 trial court decision ordering Warner Bros. to share an undetermined amount of money earned since 1999 with the heirs, and to give the family control of key components of the Superman story, including his costume. If that decision were to stand, the studio would have had to negotiate a new costly royalty agreement with the family.
“The court’s decision paves the way for the Siegel finally to receive the compensation they negotiated for and which DC has been prepared to pay for over a decade,” Warner Bros. said in a prepared statement, referring to its DC Comics division. “We are extremely pleased that Superman’s adventures can continue to be enjoyed across all media platforms worldwide for generations to come.”
The family’s attorney, Marc Toberoff, didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Toberoff said earlier that he would appeal another significant Warner Bros. victory won in October involving the family of Superman’s other creator, Joseph Shuster, and their bid for half the commercial rights. Toberoff also represents the Shuster heirs, who lost their bid to retain a 50 per cent share of Superman.
A federal judge in Los Angeles had ruled that Shuster’s sister and brother relinquished any chance to reclaim Superman copyrights in exchange for annual pension payments from DC Comics. U.S. District Judge Otis Wright noted in that case that the families of both creators have been paid in excess of $4 million since 1978, plus undefined bonuses and medical benefits.
In April, the $412 check that DC Comics wrote in 1938 to acquire Superman and other creative works by Shuster and Siegel sold for $160,000 in an online auction.
By Patricia Treble - Friday, April 9, 2010 at 1:43 PM - 2 Comments
Exhibition at the Ontario Science Centre is delightful, but not exactly scientific
Picking a favourite item from the myriad movie artifacts in the new Harry Potter exhibit at Toronto’s Ontario Science Centre is difficult, even for an actor in the series. James Phelps, who plays the mischievous Fred Weasley, paused for a while before deciding on the Gryffindor displays near the beginning of the exhibit, “mainly because it has the Marauder’s Map, which was a big part of Fred and George’s influence in the movie when they gave it to Harry.” Then he mentions the tiny four-poster beds used by Harry Potter and best friend Ron Weasley in the first few films. “See how small Ron and Harry were,” he comments. “They couldn’t get in them now.”
This is the only Canadian stop for “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” which offers Muggles an up-close look at the magical world created by J.K. Rowling and so beloved by millions. What will amaze visitors to the exhibit, which opens on April 9 and runs through Aug. 22, is the detail that went into every prop. Harry’s bed has a faded “G XXV” stenciled on it, signifying that it was the 25th bed in the Gryffindor dorm. Ron’s bed is covered by a knitted patchwork blanket. Nearby is Ron’s collection of Chudley Cannon souvenirs, including a T-shirt signed by members of the famous Quidditch team. And in front, in a glass case, is the famous Marauder’s Map.
There are so many items, large and small, in the exhibit—including 17 wands and 25 sets of wizarding robes—that going back to take a second or third look at the displays is a necessity. Otherwise fans might miss the sound of a tiny beak pecking on the inside of a dragon’s egg in Hagrid’s hut. Or a note pinned to Hogwarts’ notice board announcing that a student had found a false Merlin’s beard.
Eddie Newquist, who created the exhibit, explains that the layering of artifact upon artifact was deliberate. Even chandeliers, hidden high up in the rafters, were those used in Gryffindor common area. After Warner Bros. agreed to a traveling exhibit of movie props from the first six movies—they are still shooting the two-part Deathly Hallows conclusion—Newquist, who’d already read all the books, sat down with his staff to outline what they, as fans, would like to see. And their fantasies came true in the exhibit. The attention to detail extends even to smells. While the outdoor area, which houses Hagrid’s hut and Quidditch memorabilia, has the scent of grass, the Dark Arts section, with ‘Wanted’ posters of Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort’s robes blowing in the wind, is musty and dank. Even the exhibit workers, all OSC employees, were picked for their British accents. The fact they’d all read the series is a bonus.
Alas, those hoping to catch a behind the scenes look at the movies, will be disappointed. While the exhibit, put on with the approval of Warner Bros., will have Harry Potter fans squealing with delight, the series’ scientific and technical prowess isn’t on display. Even Lesley Lewis, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre, falls back on “craftsmanship” as a reason for its presence at a scientific educational centre. And, in an era in which interaction is key to any exhibit, there isn’t much to do but ogle, reminisce and dream, though fans can get “sorted” at the beginning, and will inevitably end up in Gryffindor. And, if the security at the exhibit’s stop in Chicago, is any indication, don’t even think of taking a picture. In the windy city, workers, apparently channeling Dolores Umbridge’s pink-camouflaged dark soul, were observed confiscating phones and deleting pictures. Those caveats aside, “Harry Potter: The Exhibit,” is going to be a smash hit. The gift shop, dressed up as Diagon Alley, will sell out of wands and mugs, and every Harry Potter fan will leave the science centre in a good mood. Because, let’s face it, that’s the magic of Hogwarts.
By Brian D. Johnson - Tuesday, July 14, 2009 at 9:00 AM - 4 Comments
Arriving eight months late, with a vampire in pursuit, can Harry still seduce his aging fans?
For the fans, it was like having a magic carpet pulled out from under them. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth instalment of the most successful franchise in film history, was due to hit theatres last November, unleashing a perfect storm of Potter-mania. The fifth movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, had come out the previous summer, the same month author J.K. Rowling published the seventh and final book of her blockbuster saga. After waiting more than a year for a fresh fix, the fans were primed. And toy stores had ordered a glut of movie-related Christmas merchandise. But then Warner Bros. pulled the plug. Because of the screenwriters’ strike, studio executives fretted they wouldn’t have a 2009 summer blockbuster, so they postponed the movie’s release for eight months—to July 15.
The fans felt blindsided. That kind of bald commercial manoeuvre seemed to violate basic notions of trust and loyalty that are embedded in the Potter property. It also upset the tempo by which the movies were being churned out to keep up with the books—which becomes an issue when the actors, and the audience, are aging faster than Rowling’s characters. And during Potter interruptus, some of Harry’s fans (mostly girls) fell under the spell of a sexier, less bookish hero—Edward, the vampire dreamboat in Twilight. The first movie based on Stephenie Meyer’s novels grossed almost US$382 million worldwide, less than half what the last Potter movie made, but it cost a quarter as much. And its star, Robert Pattinson, has become the world’s reigning teenage heartthrob. Continue…