Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Buffy Movie Rights Holders Plan Whedonless Remake

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the original rights-holders to the movie "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" are planning a "remake/relaunch" featuring the character:

"While Whedon is the person most associated with "Buffy," Kuzui and her Kuzui Enterprises have held onto the rights since the beginning, when she discovered the "Buffy" script from then-unknown Whedon. She developed the script while her husband put together the financing to make the 1992 movie, which was released by Fox."

Which made me think back to the 80s Filmation "Ghostbusters" cartoon -- you know, that cartoon that you watched as a kid and made you say: "hey, that's not the Ghostbusters." The cartoon was based on an old TV show called "The Ghost Busters," and was similar to the just-released popular "Ghostbusters" movie only in name. But Filmation owned that name -- forcing Columbia Pictures to obtain the rights to it for the hit film. That's why the official animated adaptation of the Ivan Reitman movie was named "The Real Ghostbusters."

So in theory, Kuzui Enterprises could pull a "Ghostbusters" and have their own version of Buffy Summers. They could use all the characters from their original film: Buffy, Merrick, Pike. But would 20th Century Fox & Joss Whedon let them without a lawsuit? Alternatively, could Kuzui turn around and force the existing BTVS franchise rename themselves "The Real Buffy?"


  1. I kind of would like that, actually; I'd like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to become something bigger than its roots. That is why I like the successful transfer to comics, too-- I would like "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" to take her place among Frankenstein/Dracula/Wolfman.

  2. Wow, you really do learn something new everyday. Thanks.

  3. If Whedon Buffy is ongoing, then I'm sure the naming rights were negotiated when the television show was created.

    "Never Say Never Again"
    "Rosemary's Baby" (ABC telefilm)
    are two examples of where rights weren't ironclad.

    Then there is "It's a Wonderful Life"... the movie was in the public domain, but the original story copyright was valid, and as a derivative work, copyright on the movie was restored.

    Rights can be a tricky thing... the "Heavy Metal" movie was not available for a long time because of music rights. WKRP in Cincinnati had to be re-recorded, with many songs replaced, before a DVD edition could be sold.

    Film rights alone are tricky, which is why it took so long for Spider-Man to be filmed.

  4. I found it quite interesting that Kuzui served as Executive Producer on both the Buffy and Angel television shows. I'm curious to know her reasoning behind abandoning established continuity that she must have had some role in establishing. Kind of waiting to see how this all shakes out.

  5. The Kuzuis worked with Whedon all throughout both Buffy and Angel, so I'm not sure if this is bad news or not. Though I'm sure the hardcore Whedonites are screaming bloody murder across the interwebs today.

  6. Anonymous1:04 PM

    I've never quite understood, on a fundamental level, how two versions of the same franchise could exist at the same time. It's wacky.

  7. Actually, I don't think they did. I'm pretty sure I've heard Joss (or someone, anyway) say before that they got executive producer credits because they owned the rights, but they weren't actually involved in either show in any way.

  8. I'm betting they're willing to get rid of the established continuity to make it more enticing for someone like me, who's never watched an episode or read a comic.

    If you've go a choice between catering to the general public with a reboot or a minority of fans which would you choose. And when you factor in the example of Serenity it makes even more sense.

  9. Skip:

    While that's a valid point, what would be the point of using the Buffy franchise in the first place? Lord knows "vampire hunter" isn't a very exotic premise.

    Also: the Buffy series didn't follow the continuity of the movie because Whedon didn't like some of the changes made to his original script, so the movie already belongs to a separate canon.

  10. "the Buffy series didn't follow the continuity of the movie because Whedon didn't like some of the changes made to his original script, so the movie already belongs to a separate canon"

    Yes and no. In the pilot episode, clear references are made to Buffy's activities at her previous school and other details such as Merrick. While BTVS on TV may not fully embrace the 1992 film, Whedon didn't throw it all out.

  11. Anonymous5:44 PM

    You know, with this new reboot coming out, plus Dollhouse's shaky renewal, this year's Comic-Con is really going to be telling if the new centuries Whedon is going to be an Individual or a Fan Getter-Offer. Because I've heard some things that imply he is going to the Dark Side.

  12. Actually, there's been a lot of speculation over where The Real came from. The popular story is over the rights, but my favorite version is when the producers heard Filmation was gonna try to cash in on the movie's popularity, they added The Real as a big F-you to them.

    On the Buffy front, it's not even 20 years yet...WAY too soon for a remake. Let's start whipping out some fresh ideas, people!