by Mike Masnick

Why Should Hollywood Buy The Wrong Guy's Movie Rights?

from the just-wondering dept

While the movie industry is notorious for viciously going after anything that might take away from an existing revenue stream, they seem to have no problem at all paying out all sorts of money for totally unnecessary things. And, we're not just talking about lavish perks for Hollywood stars or overspending on special effects. A few months ago, we wondered why the movie industry paid newspapers for the rights to stories for the sake of making a movie about the story. Newspaper don't "own" the stories they cover. They own the copyright to their specific writeup, but the actual news is factual, and you can't copyright facts. There's no good reason to pay for the story. Yet, now a movie producer has signed a deal with Guy Goma for the right to his story for a movie. Guy Goma, you may recall, was the accidental talking head on the BBC a few months ago. Visiting the BBC offices for an IT job interview, there was some confusion and he was put on the air as the producer of a show believed he was Guy Kewney, well-known tech writer and commentator. Now, if there were some special knowledge Goma had that would be useful in making the movie that might make sense. But, he was just some guy who in a bit of confusion was dumped on stage and made some funny faces as he realized the situation. To make matters even more ridiculous, this isn't even a movie about Guy Goma's experience -- but a fictional story that will just take some element of the story. In other words, it will probably be a movie about a guy who accidentally ends up on the air, but then goes on to become a TV star or something equally Hollywoodish in its ending. It's certainly very nice of the industry to pay Goma for the rights to a story that has some similarities to what happened to him -- but it's still not clear why they would do so. In the meantime, if I were Guy Kewney (the guy who was supposed to be on the show), I might be asking where my cut is of the movie deal.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    hoeppner, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 6:41pm

    setting precedence perhaps?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 7:09pm

    Viscously going after anything

    I guess that means the movie industry oozes glutinously after its prey. I like it!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    Mike (profile), Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 7:14pm

    Re: Viscously going after anything

    Heh. Good point. Spell check mistake. :) Fixed now... thanks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    duh, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 7:45pm

    they buy the story on the cheap to prevent pricey lawsuits later

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    socrates3001, Aug 23rd, 2006 @ 9:49pm

    I do not know why Hollywood would pay someone for that idea either. They did a similar plot starring Dolly Parton years ago. As a fictional element, there is already a story line to steal from. There is also the Hollywood favorite of reusing old stories that have become public domain, like Shakespeare. I am sure there is something in the public domain they could have used. Don't Hollywood people peruse project Gutenberg for story ideas?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    johnparadox, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 12:15am

    Old movies

    Sounds a lot like BEING THERE.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    BlueBearr, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 4:29am

    One reason

    Pre-emptive avoidance of possible future lawsuits. Even if they paid the wrong guy, they can claim no malicious intent because, look, they tried to pay *someone*.


    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 8:36am

    Or maybe they pay him so they can capitalize on his "fame"?

    Think they paid Frank Abagnale for Catch Me If You Can? They could have just made up something, but the fact that is was based on a true story made it all the more compelling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    David, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 8:37am

    Re: One reason

    It's not just avoidance. It's often accompanied by a contract saying "You can't sue us for profits of this movie because you took this money from us already." They'd rather pay a bit of money now before they even get the idea on film rather than pay a LOT of money later when the screwed up courts system sides with someone who was "slighted" by their story being told without permission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Philip, Aug 24th, 2006 @ 3:08pm

    Re: One reason

    I was about to say the exact same thing. It's purely to protect their butts in case Guy tries to sue them for "using his likeness without permission." And lord knows there's been plenty of them lawsuits.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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