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Legal | Eriq Gardner delves into the issues underlying the continuing legal battle over unauthorized replicas of the Batmobile from the 1966 Batman television series and the 1989 film: This summer the Ninth Circuit will consider the appeal of Gotham Garage owner Mark Towle, whose Batmobile replicas were found in February 2013 to violate DC Comics’ copyrights and trademarks. While Towle argues that Batman’s ride is a “useful article,” meaning a utilitarian object not protected by U.S. copyright law, a federal judge ruled the Batmobile is “a copyrightable character.” Gardner notes that if the appeals court sides with DC/Warner Bros., “Hollywood studios would win a powerful weapon to stop products that are similar to props like light sabers and ruby slippers.” [The Hollywood Reporter]
If Hammacher Schlemmer‘s $200,000 licensed, street-legal 1966 Batmobile is a little too cheap, or a little too dated, for your tastes, allow us to this roadworthy replica on the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Listed on the James Edition luxury goods website, the vehicle will only set you back … $1 million.
But, hey, it’s worth it: This concept car — it’s “inspired by the movie Batman Begins” — comes equipped with an eight-cylinder LS1 engine, four 44-inch super swamper tires with custom rims, five driver-assist cameras and a stereo with blue tooth, CD/DVD and iPod integration. Plus, it’s a limited edition; there are just five of these in the world.
Australian fashion company Black Milk Clothing has debuted a Batman collection, featuring comics-inspired apparel ranging from dresses to leggings to swimsuits. While the flashiest piece may be the Batman Cape Suit, with detachable cape, the standout items are probably those that incorporate actual comic-book art by the likes of Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Terry Dodson and Jock.
You can check out some of the pieces below, along with a video, which gets annoying fairly quickly.
With rumors circulating about cameos by the Flash, Aquaman and even Martian Manhunter in the Man of Steel sequel, it’s likely only a matter of time before Warner Bros. gets around to everyone’s favorite Thanagarian (and/or reincarnated Egyptian prince). If studio executives have any doubts, Good Mythical Morning presents an argument for why Hawkman deserves to headline his own movie that, if I’m understanding it right, would be pitched as “Any Which Way But Loose meets Fly Away Home meets Raiders of the Lost Ark.”
There’s also a trailer which, to be fair, features a costume only slightly worse than the one Hawkman wore on Smallville.
Time Inc. confirmed this morning that long-expected layoffs, which widespread reports place at as high as 500 employees, will begin immediately as parent company Time Warner prepares to spin off its low-performing publishing division. Time Inc., which publishes more than 20 magazines, employees about 7,800 people worldwide.
DC Entertainment, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. Entertainment, won’t be affected by either the layoffs or the spinoff.
The New York Post contends the newly acquired American Express Publishing (Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Departures), with about 400 employees, is expected to be hit hard by the cuts; its Executive Travel magazine could be shuttered immediately.
Although an appeals court seems to have brought to an end the Joe Shuster estate’s bid to reclaim the artist’s stake in Superman, The Hollywood Reporter reminds us that the fight by Jerry Siegel’s heirs is far from over.
According to the website, attorney Marc Toberoff — he represents both families — is scheduled to file a brief next month on a pending appeal of a March 2013 ruling that affirmed the writer’s family relinquished any claims to the Man of Steel by accepting a 2001 offer from DC Comics that permits the publisher to retain all rights to Superman (as well as Superboy and The Spectre) in exchange for $3 million in cash and contingent compensation worth tens of millions.
Toberoff maintains the Siegels never accepted the DC offer (the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found otherwise), but even if there was a contract, then the publisher failed to perform. That explains the addition last year of the line “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family” to the credits of any DC title featuring Superman, a stipulation of the 2001 agreement.
However, Wright noted that breach-of-contract claims are a matter for state court, and don’t affect the enforceability of the 2001 agreement. So, a separate lawsuit remains an option for the Siegels, even if — or perhaps when — they exhaust their copyright case.
As The Hollywood Reporter points out, while the Siegel heirs still face “incredibly long odds,” their fight isn’t over yet.
In the latest — and, quite possibly, final — legal blow to the estate of Joe Shuster, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition for a rehearing of its November decision that effectively brought to an end what a three-judge panel described as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.”
Deadline reports that the one-page order closes the door to any more petitions for rehearing before the Ninth Circuit, leaving the Supreme Court as the only option left to attorney Marc Toberoff, who last year pledged, “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.”
When a poster arrived in November at Midtown Comics promoting a Wonder Twins movie, with celebrity couple Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher in the title roles, many thought it was clever viral marketing for a planned Entourage movie or a strange hoax. That, or a cruel twist of fate (Super Friends alums Zan and Jayna were going to make the leap to the big screen before Wonder Woman?).
It was a hoax all right, as Marc Tyler Nobleman discovered — one orchestrated by The BatPodcast host Pat Evans, who told the author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman that, “with the spate of superhero movies being released, I think it was just me thinking it would be fun to do a spoof version of one.”
“I thought, ‘What would be the most preposterous superhero movie you could make?’ Naturally, the Wonder Twins sprang to mind,” he explained. “They were perfect, because it was just unbelievable enough a concept that it could be true, if that makes sense. ‘So crazy it might work’ kind of logic. And Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher were kind of the clincher because they are in the media a lot now as a real-life couple. So it added that extra layer of ‘huh?’”
“I was so happy that they made another Superman movie! I’m really reluctant to be critical of it in any way. But I thought the glossing over of the figuring out a secret identity and why he felt he needed one was a huge missed opportunity for that character, and one of the most interesting things about Superman is the whole secret identity. So to me it was too much action/violence and not enough character study.”
– comedian, and famously die-hard Superman fan, Jerry Seinfeld, addressing director Zack Snyder’s divisive Man of Steel in a Reddit AMA
(via Badass Digest)
I have a confession to make: I had a complete geek tantrum over the news that Joseph Gordon-Levitt is finalizing a deal to produce, and possibly star in and direct, a feature adaptation of Neil Gaiman and company’s The Sandman. I actually blurted out, “Who asked for this?!” Quite loudly. In a well-populated room.
I’m not proud; I should be above such pettiness. In fact, I should be thrilled because we all know what this means: DC Comics’ recently remastered collections of The Sandman are going to get a nice sales boost from the movie promotion (see Watchmen, 300, Scott Pilgrim, Hellboy, et al).
That’s nothing but good news for the creators, retailers and DC. It’s also good news for a new generation of readers that will likely be introduced to the landmark Vertigo series. More people being exposed to such an excellent example of comics is great, and when it comes down to it, I just want comics to succeed. So my feelings should be put aside, and I should be trumpet the adaptation as good news. But …
I don’t wanna. I really don’t wanna.
As expected, the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing of last month’s ruling that reaffirmed the artist’s estate can’t reclaim his copyright stake in the Man of Steel.
The Ninth Circuit upheld in a 2-1 opinion an October 2012 ruling by a lower court that the Shuster family relinquished all claims to the character in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright had found the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
But in a petition filed Tuesday, and first reported by Deadline, attorney Marc Toberoff insists the Nov. 21 opinion warrants a rehearing by either the three-judge panel or the Ninth Circuit’s full bench “because it contravenes Congress’ clear objectives, and this Court’s carefully-circumscribed decisions.”
OK, so that $200,000 street-legal Batmobile replica is a little bit out of your price range. It’s understandable: After all, the economy is soft and crime-fighting doesn’t pay as much as it used to. Then maybe you’d have been better suited for a “one-of-a-kind” Batman Tumbler Golf Cart.
Alas, someone just snapped it up for a Buy It Now price of $17,500, ending the eBay auction a few days early. Sure, it isn’t Warner Bros.-approved, and it doesn’t have a blinking Batphone, it does look like an adorably squat version of the vehicle from the Christopher Nolan movies. Plus, hey, four cupholders!
The other former superheroes at Gotham Acres Retirement Community will definitely be jealous when they see the Can’t-Drive-After-Dark Knight cruising around in this baby.
This tidbit seems perfectly timed, considering both the success of DC Comics’ digital-first Batman ’66, and Tom Bondurant’s recent column about DC-inspired movies and television series that should make their way to comics: Author and screenwriter Harlan Ellison wrote a (fittingly) two-part Two-Face story for the classic Batman TV show that, alas, was never produced.
Neil Gaiman discovered that detail over the weekend — “WHY IS THIS NOT NEWS?” he tweeted — in the description for the fifth volume of Harlan Ellison’s Brain Movies, a series that collects his original teleplays.
The listing reads: “SEE ELLISON’S FIRST ADVENTURE WITH THE CAPED CRUSADER: Though Harlan’s written numerous comic book scripts for the Dark Knight, his first slide down the Bat-Pole was in 1966 when he pitched an episode to ABC’s Batman, starring Adam West and Burt Ward. Tragically—for reasons explained in the editor’s notes—’The Two-Way Crimes of Two-Face’ treatment was never produced, but now you can read what the Unrepentant Harlequin had in mind for the Dynamic Duo and their Bifurcated Foe.”
Time Warner filed documents last week to spin off Time Inc. — the media giant’s worst-performing division — into what Bloomberg calls “the world’s largest publicly traded magazine company.” The move, as ICv2.com notes, would effectively rid Time Warner of all of its remaining print assets except for DC Comics, which remains part of the Warner Bros. Entertainment subsidiary.
Time Inc., whose sales have fallen in five of the past seven years, publishes more than 20 magazines, including its namesake Time, Entertainment Weekly, Fortune, Sports Illustrated and People. It added Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure and Departures in September when it acquired American Express Co.’s publishing unit.
Talk of the spinoff, planned for sometime in 2014, began in March after a failed attempt to forge a new venture with Ladies’ Home Journal publisher Meredith Corporation. “A complete spinoff of Time Inc. provides strategic clarity for Time Warner Inc.,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said at the time, “enabling us to focus entirely on our television networks and film and TV production businesses, and improves our growth profile.”
It doesn’t matter whether you have thousands of Batman comics and collectibles, or transform your basement into the Batcave, you’re not truly a fan until you own a licensed, roadworthy replica of the Batmobile from the 1966 television series. And it’ll only set you back $200,000.
Offered by Hammacher Schlemmer, the Authentic 1966 Batmobile comes standard “comes standard with a 430-horsepower, 383 Blueprint Crate engine and a Monster TH350 automatic transmission,” which probably means something to someone. While it isn’t equipped with atomic batteries, it does have a blinking Batphone and “a rotating red beacon.” There are also rear parachute packs, which are, alas, empty.
There’s no mention of how many miles per gallon it gets, but that’s probably not a chief concern if you have $200,000 lying around to buy a Batmobile.