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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com
 Subject: additional from jms
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 2/25/2005 4:10:37 PM  

Message 1 in thread 

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I'm putting this here because the new message threader I sent eaerlier
is taking a while to move through the system. So this info will repeat
soonish on another subject.

jms

-----------------------------------------------

The rule of thumb in Hollywood is that for every thousand scripts that
get written, only a few dozen get into development, and out of those,
only one will ever get made...if that.

A little over a year ago, I was approached by a company that wanted to
make a Babylon 5 movie. They optioned the rights, and commissioned a
script. (It's worth mentioning that I, not WB, own the rights to a B5
movie. When we were negotiating the original B5 deal -- by whose terms
I will never see a dime in profit -- the one thing they did let me have
were the movie rights, figuring they'd never be worth anything in the
long run.)

Anyway...on December 27th of 2003, the script for "The Memory of
Shadows" was turned in, and the process began of trying to make the
deal work with all the various forces involved. It is, to say the
least, a very difficult process on any movie where the studio does not
directly take the financial reins. In terms of B5, Warner's position
was esssentially, "We only do big-budget movies with big names, so
you're on your own." If there were big-name movie actors in the film,
they'd get behind it; without that, things become very problematic,
especially as far as the financing was concerned. You much have to put
together a consortium of international interests and business plans
rivaled in complexity only by the Allied invasion of Normandy Beach.

Nonetheless, every attempt was made by the people involved to get this
deal in place. This was not being done by Doug or myself, but rather
by the company/individuals who approached us and optioned the rights.
At times, it seemed we were inches away from a deal...stages were
reserved at Elstree, actors were contacted, a director was in place,
the script went through many revisions, a few key staff were hired,
again not by me...it was really a year-long roller coaster ride.
During that time, the people involved, with every good intention, tried
very hard to pull the necessary pieces together on the deal. The
option expired in late December 2004, but I renewed it without cost, to
give those involved more time to try and make things work.

In the end, however, the deal could not be put together, and it did not
look as if that was going to change at any point in the foreseeable
future. So the option has reverted, and to all intents and purposes,
the project has dead ended. Nor do I think this particular incarnation
will arise again at any point in the future, though prognostication has
always been a tricky art, especially if you have to do it without the
benefit of hindsight.

This was not the first time someone's taken a run at a B5 feature film,
and it will not be the last. Eventually it will happen, because such
things are simply inevitable. If they can do a Brady Bunch movie, you
can be sure that sooner or later, somebody's going to do a B5 movie.
The only thing I can say without equivocation is that when that day
comes, as the rights-holder, I will make darned sure that it's done
right, because I'd rather have no B5 movie than one that doesn't live
up to what fans and I myself would want to see.

To that end...I can wait.

Anyway, just thought you should know the story.

jms








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Synthetic Worlds, Ltd.
Reprint permission specifically
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    From: jmsatb5@aol.com
 Subject: Re: additional from jms
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 2/25/2005 6:22:05 PM  

Message 2 in thread 

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Methuselah Jones wrote:
> Carved in mystic runes upon the very living rock, the last words of
> <jmsatb5@aol.com> of rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated make plain:
>
> > When we were negotiating the original B5 deal -- by whose terms I
will
> > never see a dime in profit -- the one thing they did let me have
were
> > the movie rights.
>
> No wonder WB likes B5 -- they don't have to pay you anything for it.
> Kind of puts a different light on buying the DVDs and stuff, knowing
> we're just supporting some fat-ass studio execs and not the actual
> talent.
>

That's the great irony of the situation. The criteria told to us right
up front while we were producing B5 was that each of the series on PTEN
had to show a profit *in that year* in order to stay on the air and be
renewed. So we'd have these meetings with studio heads who were
congratulating us on how much money the show was making for them
(again, while we were still making for it), and then look at me,
realize what they'd said, and hurriedly add, "Though technically we're
still in the red."

The show, all in, cost about $110 million to make. Each year of its
original run, we know it showed a profit because they TOLD us so. And
in one case, they actually showed us the figures. It's now been on the
air worldwide for ten years. There's been merchandise, syndication,
cable, books, you name it. The DVDs grossed roughly half a BILLION
dollars (and that was just after they put out S5, without all of the S5
sales in).

So what does my last profit statement say? We're $80 million in the
red.

Basically, by the terms of my contract, if a set on a WB movie burns
down in Botswana, they can charge it against B5's profits.

But then again, I knew that was the situation going in...I saw the
writing on the wall (and the contract) from the git-go. I didn't do
this to build an empire, I wanted to tell this story...and that's worth
more than anything else.

Doesn't mean I can't tweak 'em about it, though.

jms
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com
 Subject: Re: additional from jms
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 2/26/2005 11:45:22 PM  

Message 3 in thread 

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"So basically, all the letters and hype and hatred for Warner Bros.
over
the past six months was less than pointless, since they had no role in
the B5 movie at all.
Ironic, really, considering how much in a tizzy some pople were around
here."

Your assumption is not valid. Which is all I can say for the moment.

jms

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