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October 10 2007

Fox Cancels Buffy & Firefly Nights in Oakland. Some info.

I am sure that this is self-posting, but I thought that you all should know that Fox has canceled the Buffy and Firefly screenings in Oakland. I just got this email from my theater manager (I am the hostess for Parkway Whedon Nights here in Oakland)

Gals

I can't believe this but Criterion just contacted me and informed me Fox has abruptly cancelled all TV theatrical exhibition of these shows due to their greed and ignorance, even though they were officially licensed via Criterion.

So this means all future shows, including the Halloween shows, have been axed, rudely and with short notice.

Please spread the word and tell the fans to COMPLAIN TO FOX!!!

thanks, Will

Will Viharo
Programmer/Publicist
Speakeasy Theaters


(Please wait for all of the facts to come in about this before burning Fox in effigy or writing angry fanfic involving C&D letters. The one thing that we can be sure of at this time is that we don't know the whole story. -Ed.)

[ edited by zeitgeist on 2007-10-10 04:53 ]

Simon, et al ... If you need this to link somewhere, I've posted about it here: http://lexigeek.livejournal.com/77823.html

[ edited by lexigeek on 2007-10-10 02:20 ]
Someone added a comment that said this includes charity events. Fox wants 30% of gross for fund raising.
I would like to suggest people NOT start rampaging emails or whatever into FOX until and unless we actually have full information on what's going on here.

Right now, we have a partial story, and not enough to start launching some sort of complaint campaign.
This is just ridiculous. Fighting back the urge to swear at Fox, do we know which part of Fox has done this and any idea at all why? I mean apart from to piss us off, which they obviously love doing. On the face of it, this would include OMWF, to which I can only say - Fox OMFG.
Who said what where about Fox wanting 30% of the fundraising gross for charity events? (At least this does not affect CSTS.)
violetohara, it's in the comments at the link lexigeek provided in his comment here.

ETA:

Can someone from Cali involved in these particular showings please detail for us how they operated? It's unclear to me from what's been provided if this is cancellation of these shows, or cancellation of all shows anywhere.

(This is part of what I meant above by us not having enough information right now to know just WHAT we're reacting to.)

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-10-10 02:18 ]
But - it doesn't make sense. They've cancelled the showings, but have been getting 30% of all gross box office, even charity screenings?

Wouldn't the basic laws of greed dictate letting shows go on? What am I not getting?

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2007-10-10 03:03 ]
This is just completely typical of FOX. Cancel the shows we love and then when we fans find ways to still enjoy the show they try to hose us out of that. Oh man... if only I knew a FOX exec.

Theontruebix, I do agree with what you are saying. Rampaging with half the facts won't do us any good. Would this include CSTS despite it being an Universal film??
Would this include CSTS despite it being an Universal film??

No. The rights to show Serenity for CSTS screenings are done directly with Universal Distribution. No FOX. No Criterion.
I agree with previous posters, I'd like to hear more of this story with more details, and if it merits, I'd be happy to write to FOX to convey my opinion. But I'm not sure of the whole story yet to do that.
This is insanity! How could they POSSIBLY not have been making money off of this? People wait out in the rain with no hope of getting a ticket at the Parkway for these screenings. If Speakeasy was having to fork over 30% of the profits a month...that's not an insignificant chunk of change for a long-cancelled TV show to be bringing in.
Trust FOX to find a way to ruin a great thing. It's what they're best at.
Anyone involved with other screenings get similar word?
Just to reiterate here, since this is already starting to flash-flood across the blogosphere:

All we have right now is one venue's message. We have not heard from Criterion. We have not heard from Fox. We have not heard from any other venue(s).

We don't even have half a story yet. It might be helpful, this early on, if people might mention the above when they run across this story on other sites.
Ah, thanks b!X.

30% of the gross, eh? Hm. The same theatre shows Rocky Horror every Saturday, and I know there is a set amount they have to pay regardless of sales. I'm not privy to how much the Parkway was having to fork over every time, but like WillowSlay says: these shows sell out almost every month. Maybe that's part of the problem...? I suppose we'll know more when we know more. Gods, I'm a huge help. =p
Bix-
This is MelissaAnne. I posted the email that I received from the manager of the theater where I host Parkway Whedon.
The second email from Will says that it is basically a cease and desist from Fox to Criterion. I will add information when it comes to me and I asked for some details. I thought that it was important that folks know this is happening- especially for anyone else who has this kind of event.

I am waiting on more info. I will post it here, or Simon- if you think that it isn't appropriate, let me know.
If you would like to post something that is self-linking, please just email us instead and we'll get it posted for you. Plus, as b!X mentions above we don't have the whole story yet. Leaving the story up for the moment as I believe the comments on this thread may serve a very important purpose in preventing this story from becoming a tempest in a container of indeterminate size (don't be too shocked if it up and disappears, however). And let me reiterate re: self-linking -- do it and you may find your account reset to allow only comment posting (or you may find all privs revoked).
Got it! Thanks Zeitgeist.
FOX... Cancel... I don't buy it.
It's not a voting thing, but I'd like to raise my hand in favor of the mods re-editing the post to link to one of the other places that has reproduced the Parkway email and leaving this thread up. (A similar notice also is on Parkway's own site, under special events.)

ETA:

The second email from Will says that it is basically a cease and desist from Fox to Criterion.

It's still unclear to me, though, whether this is all-encompassing, or if for some reason Fox told Criterion to shut down this venue's showings specifically.

All of us out here are still too many steps removed to grasp what's going on, and whether or not any of the way this is being described so far is caught in the children's game of telephone. Heh.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-10-10 06:12 ]
Wow. This is all certainly very confusing.

I'd love to get the full story here...
God it's too early.

I've changed the link to lexigeek's LJ.

I'm assuming we are talking about 20th Century Fox here and not the Fox network as there is a hell of a difference.
My assumption as well, Simon.

FWIW, since there's been some confusion I didn't intend, I should clarify: Nothing I've said here should be taken as me suggesting that this somehow is false news. I never said the Parkway was lying, and never said the information should not have been shared.

What I meant to do was just try to make it clear we didn't know everything about what was going on yet, since it was too early in the news hitting to know everything.

None of that should be taken as a lack of sympathy/empathy for the Cali fans impacted by the Parkway's situation.

There might very well be a circumstance here that might behoove going off half-cocked. I just didn't want to see the fandom do that until the whole story was evident.

None of my cautionary statements should be read as the suggestion that there's nothing going on here. Only as the argument that until more parties have weighed in, we don't know the extent -- and, in the end, as a fandom we should trust, but verify.
It's early in Europe. It's way too late in PST for any more corporate communications. But if for some reason people involved can't sleep, it's an excellent time to network about if there have been more communications, and nail down the details. And keep track of who said what to whom. I notice the post doesn't say how or specifically who was contacted, or the time, or exactly what it said. If it turns out that the interested parties need and can manage to get help from a lawyer, all the details are important.

Sorry if I sound bossy, but I'm studying for an exam for a paralegal credential right now, and totally into this stuff.
Am absolutely astonished. This makes no sense at all.

[ edited by sandyg on 2007-10-10 09:42 ]
I wonder if this has anything at all to do with the pending writer's strike. This is wild speculation, of course. But if the strike is long, networks will be starved for scripted, produced material to broadcast. I've already heard rumors that the networks might be borrowing some of their affiliated cable stations' old material during the strike. If the studio sees a reason they might need to license BTVS to a network in the near future...

I don't think theatrical exhibitions would impact broadcast viewership, but who knows how execs think or what's in the contracts.

Again, wild speculation.
Waiting for more information, but I actually don't need another reason to hate Fox, 20th Century or the network. Which are linked in ways my brain doesn't comprehend, but definitely both part of a multi-headed, creativity destroying corporate demon.
Fox, you suck. If you were an old lady I'd kick you.
You can't kick old ladies ! Can you ?
If the old lady in question is Fox, yes. Even if she's holding kittens and puppies and a sign that says "I support 800 starving children a week".
Fox are also having a purge at Youtube too - including fan vids made from their TV shows. Not something that affects me personally but it suggests a new crackdown.

Of course it could be unrelated but this is Fox.
It is Fox that goes around kicking the old ladies...
and I'm afraid we've been the metaphorical elderly women for years.
But it's important to remember that this is a wholly different animal than Youtube. With Youtube, you're looking at potential (ok, probable) copyright violations. What makes this case so unusual is that these particular screenings (since that's all we have to go by at the moment) were totally by-the-book, with licensing fees paid to all the appropriate parties.
Does this mean no more Xander fan vids? Shame on you, Fox. Let me keep my Nick Bredon-y goodness.
Double darn...I just moved to the East Bay and was looking forward to making the Speakeasy Whedon nights my new haunt. Sigh.
In other news, FOX executives just stabbed a kitten.
Was the kitten blind? I hear they like to stab helpless kittens. Especially the blind ones.
Waiting for more information, but I actually don't need another reason to hate Fox, 20th Century or the network. Which are linked in ways my brain doesn't comprehend, but definitely both part of a multi-headed, creativity destroying corporate demon.


Well we do link to IGN.com a lot and no one hates them for being part of the same corporate demon.

Do we know if Criterion have screwed up in such a way that led to 20th Century Fox cancelling the events? Or are we all reduced to chanting the daily fandom hate of "Fox sucks" without bothering to check all the facts?
But Simon, Fox does suck. Now is not the time for nonsense like logic and facts. That's just nutty.
;)
Do we know if Criterion have screwed up in such a way that led to 20th Century Fox cancelling the events? Or are we all reduced to chanting the daily fandom hate of "Fox sucks" without bothering to check all the facts?

I don't have details yet, but I do have initial confirmation from another party, so this for sure is not just Parkway. There's something going on.

But, to address the above, I still, at this point, don't yet know if it's an outright Fox crackdown or some issue specific to Criterion.
I'd love to get my hands on the letter Criterion sent to the venue operators (since obviously there's no way to get hold of the letter Fox sent to them).
Wait...Fox is Glory??

Actually that sorta makes sense.

Random acts; leaving people devastated and mad.
I live in St. Louis and had plans to attend a OMWF event over the weekend, which has now been officially cancelled. At least the movie theater here is softening the blow a bit by screening "Serenity" for free over the weekend.
Reposting a comment from my LiveJournal for someone w/o a Whedonesque account:

I'm the host of the Cerrito Whedon Nights I've written to Criterion but haven't heard back directly. This is from an email that Criterion sent the Speakeasy theaters that they forwarded to me:

"Fox, like other studios, finds themselves in need of often swift action to deal with licensing and availability. Unfortunately, this involves not just the rights on Buffy but all TV shows. As of this writing, we have been told that Criterion is not authorized to license any TV Shows (please refer to Fox in Flight for the scope of this withdrawl) at this time. Because this is a different medium, there are questions regarding licensing, especially in theatrical settings."

That's as close to official info as I have. I will post more here as I get it.


ETA:

Oh and I checked the "Fox in Flight" site and yes, all TV shows are unavailable to domestic markets.


[ edited by lexigeek on 2007-10-10 20:34 ]
There are always going to be issues when art meets business. Art is usually somewhat accessible until there is a demand. Once a demand is created, the lawyers, censors (political and/or religious) and anyone else that has an opinion (or stake to make a dollar) steps in and exercises their “rights.” I think this can be traced back to the earliest written word.

We as fans of the shows have an emotional stake. If we personally owned the financial rights to Buffy we might feel differently about when and how the shows are displayed. For example, what if Joss owned all the rights and said, “I no longer like the idea of showing OMWF in public theaters for profit, charity or other purposes. It’s off the table. End of discussion.” Could that be disputed? No more than our attempts to redefine canon (sorry for bringing that up).

We do have the right to gripe and send mass complaints (or candy bars, if you prefer) but that’s pretty much it. Complaining works if the corporations’ management feels the potential negatives outweigh the positives. Because it’s NOT Joss and it IS the evil, profit-hungry Fox Corporation, we as fans have a further sense of entitlement.

The bottom line is that they own it and can do as they please.

What I can’t understand is why Fox wouldn’t spearhead an initiative to nurture a cult status for their products versus hindering the natural course of events. The writing all over the freakin’ wall (and floors and ceilings) and worse than ignoring it, they're fighting it. That’s not very bright.
When I go to Fox in Flight, there are only a few shows listed as international only. Am I missing something? Did they already resolve the issue?
I did a Google on Criterion and found they haven't been able to screen Fox films for years due to licensing issues. It just looks like a rights dispute to me.
Copyrights & you pdf is an interesting read about this type of copyright and violations. Checking out Criterions site and it looks like they can license FOX Films but no where on their site do I see TV shows listed that can e licensed.
I get all the arguments about how its their right to do as they please and on a intellectual level it all makes sense. But, as I tend to lead with my heart, all I can say is, this just sucks! Actually, I could probably say a whole lot more. But in essence, it just sucks big ol' #%!&!$&!! I managed to make it to one OMWF screening and was in the death throes of bronchitis. I definitley would've loved a chance to do it again when I wasn't coughing up a lung with every word I sang. Wolfram & Hart strikes again, I mean FOX!!
Is Fox in Flight not for airlines?
Simon, yes, it is. What I inferred from the comment on my LJ was that there's some kind of trouble in licensing land for Fox in Flight, and that for some reason, that issue is spilling over into Fox's other divisions. Of course, that sort of sounds like using amputation to cure a hangnail, but what do I know?
Wolf. Ram. Hart. FOX.
What a crying shame. I checked on the OMWF sing-a-long website, and sure enough, if you follow the link through to the St. Louis theater that was supposed to be hosting a sing-a-long this weekend, you get notice of cancellation "due to events beyond our control."

(Edited to remove lengthy speculation and musings which I realize are not germane until we know what's the what. Surprisingly, I didn't Fox bash. At least not outside my own head. But, damn. Those OMWF shows were the bomb. I'm in mourning over the loss of those. Buffy in the Village no more.)

[ edited by phlebotinin on 2007-10-10 22:55 ]
For what it's worth, various posts on the SF Browncoats group (like this one) suggest that whatever is going on is still so recent that the question of the current status quo receives different answers depending on who at Fox or Criterion you manage to speak to.

Whatever is going on, even the parties involved do not yet appear to all have been put on the same page.
I totally agree with you phlebotinin (pre and post edit). If there is one thing we're good at, its fighting the good fight. What is more important than preserving the things we are passionate about?

Looks like we just became an army, again.

(And yes b!x, I'm waiting for more info before I lace up my combat boots!)
If the dispute is between Fox and Criterion, perhaps there's another avenue through which to license the screenings with Fox?

Well, whatever is happening, more details are definitely needed in order to know how best to proceed.

But for now, the situation sucks big time.
Deleted for reasons I'll explain later.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-10-10 23:44 ]
I wonder if Clinton McClung of the Buffy Sing-A-Long has recieved a C&D order recently.

ETA :

Although it looks like he may have gotten a license ... according to an AP article written back in January of this year.

"He was later able to license the show for public screenings and brought it to New York's IFC Center. Once there, he built a volunteer cast made of up New York professionals, including a lawyer, and added a few interactive games such as an act-along "Buffyoke" contest."

Let's hope he didn't get it from Criterion.

[ edited by RavenU on 2007-10-11 00:05 ]
Although it looks like he may have gotten a license...

So did Parkway. These aren't unlicensed showings that are being pulled, but previously-licensed ones.
RavenU, here is your answer.
Of course, no one seems to have any information about this right now, so I've decided to wait until we actually get an answer before expending too much of my energy on "what if"-ing worst possible scenarios. (Not judging anyone else's choices, however. I just happen to get pretty off-the-wall when I go down that road, so I'm only speaking for myself!)

While this is pure speculation on my part, my first reaction was to wonder if the pullback has more to do with the Writer's Guild negotiations that are currently underway than anything else. My understanding is that some of the items that are holding up a new contract have to do with new, non-traditional revenue outlets for shows.

Then again, I could be completely wrong! I'm hoping the issue(s) will be quickly resolved so we can all enjoy the theatrical experiences. I was lucky enough to be at the LA OMWF screening that Joss and Marti were at (as well as one of the NY screenings), and I had a wonderful time. I hope we can all enjoy these great screenings again soon.
Well, now we know - OMWF screenings are cancelled. I did fear the worst when reading the original story and unfortunately it seems to be going that way for now. Fingers crossed that it all gets sorted out, but it's a real shame for everyone planning to go.
I've started a .org thread in order to have a place -- once we know for sure what the reason for this is -- to discuss a collective response that is measured and relevant.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-10-11 01:13 ]
(please refer to Fox in Flight for the scope of this withdrawl)
...

Oh and I checked the "Fox in Flight" site and yes, all TV shows are unavailable to domestic markets.

I'm confused by this, because I can't seem to find that indication on the FiF website, and I have another source who says otherwise. What part of the site am I dumbly missing?
inthemoment, you may not be wrong. That actually makes a lot of sense.
This is still not entirely nailed down, but this post indicates that a source at Criterion has related that:

... "an outside party" (and I believe him that he doesn't know who it is, has asked Fox for "their share" of theatrical releases of the TV shows ...


At suggested at the linked post, this potentially (stressing potentially) adds credence to the issues being raised in the looming writer's strike.

[ edited by theonetruebix on 2007-10-11 02:56 ]
As requested, I'm copying Laura's message (mentioned above) into this thread, for posterity. It looks like this isn't a case of Fox being stupid, but of having their hand forced by outside forces. Here's to hoping those outside forces will be temporary.
As promised: I'm just off the phone with my contact at Criterion. He is waiting for more detailed info as well but what he could tell me is that "an outside party" (and I believe him that he doesn't know who it is, has asked Fox for "their share" of theatrical releases of the TV shows. So it sounds like the Writer's strike theory on Whedonesque might be right. I asked him if it was the writer's strike and he said he totally hadn't thought of that but it made more sense than any guess he had come up with. He says that Fox as a business actually wants to figure this out and continue the theatrical releases because it's a good source of revenue and in their best interest to do so.

So this might just be a temporary problem that will be settled with the Writer's Strike. Let's hold off on the angry mob scenes for now.

I've asked Cary to e-mail me a copy of Fox's official statement as soon as he gets it and he promised to do so.

I'm a very cynical person and I'm pretty good at knowing when I'm being lied to. I believe this guy is telling me what he believes to be the truth. Frankly he sounded a bit in awe of the fandom. He knows we are mighty and he doesn't want us angry.

(if someone want's to copy the above to Whedonesque since I haven't scored an account there- feel free)

I asked if the Music would be affected by this and he said no, so who knows how to find out how to get the rights to use the soundtrack for OMWF sing-a-long without the visuals. I am willing to get up on stage and make a fool of myself pantomimiing if I get a few fools to join me.

I have to run all this by Will, but I bet if we can square the music thing I think he'd be up for it.

So people please speak up (even if you can't make it this month but you've gone in the past or plan to go in the future, you opinion will give me an idea of what our pubilc would prefer:

Buffy Movie: yes or no?

People Hamming it up on stage to the soundtrack (if we get clearance)? yes or no

Social event at the movie theater (costumes, games etc.) without Audio Visual Aids?: yes or no

Dramatic reading of the comics (again if I can figure out how to get clearance) yes or no

Combination of the above (specify)???

Something else that hasn't been thought of????

Also keep in mind that if said "outside forces" do in fact turn out to be the Writers Guild, opinion on this matter is going to get very interesting. (For example, personally, I generally believe the writers should be getting more than they are from DVD and other media.)
Hmmmm, I think b!X left out an "/em" somewhere and it's corrupted the board. Edit, b!Xy! Edit! ;-)

This is sounding more and more like an unstoppable chain of events that isn't anybody's fault entirely, but as usually it's the fandom that gets the shaft. I hope they fix it soon, but if it's WGA it could be months.
It's just greed at work again - nothing new.

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