Director Alex Cox ('Repo Man') Says 'Pirate My Stuff'
from the studio-shocked-to-find-zero-sum-game-on-either-end dept
In an interview with The Quietus to discuss the Blu-ray release of Repo Man, Cox discusses, among other things, the many ways Universal Studios has given him its patented shaft, starting with the supposed sequel to Repo Man:
We took Repo Man sequels to Universal and proposed they do it, but they weren't interested. What they did instead is they brought out a movie titled Repo Men and pretended that was the sequel.So, there's strike one. Studio takes a meeting, feigns disinterest, does it on its own terms while simultaneously abusing any goodwill built up between the director and his fans and between the studio and fans of the original. Then there's the wholly incomprehensible "reason" why the UK is getting Repo Man on Blu-ray but the United States isn't:
Universal Studios has an antipathy towards Repo Man and towards Walker. I don't think they will ever bring out a good version in the US. I can't understand why Universal won't do a sequel given how much money they made off the original Repo Man. It's an institutional animus. The kinds of people that get jobs in studios tend to be fearful of their superiors and that's how they keep their jobs. The guys at Universal, even though they were 13 when Repo Man came out, they've been told by their superiors: 'We don't like that film'. And that's the official attitude from generation to generation in the studio. They have an institutional animus which almost makes you think that corporations really could be people.And... strike two. For reasons only truly known to the studio, Repo Man is not going to see a US release on Blu-ray. Cox has worked with Universal so it's hard to imagine he's just making this up. He's completely right about the institutional fear built into the major studios, which explains everything from the reliance on sequels and remakes to the legislative flailing about in response to piracy. Large entities seldom move quickly and their response time is usually infected with serious amounts of institutional lag. You'd think it would be as simple as throwing on some Region 1 encoding and firing up the burners, but it looks as if Universal Studios would rather American audiences pick this up through alternate methods. If you're worried about "lost sales," it would seem that you'd at least attempt to make your product available for sale.
But Cox isn't through yet. The interviewer mentions "and then there's the crisis of getting the rights from the studios." At that point, Cox tees off:
It's so corrupt. Now they want to have longer copyright periods because they say the young artists are relying on this money. The young artists never see any money because they sign away that money to big media corporations, like Universal and Viacom. We, the artists, lose all of our rights to these massive corporations, who then come down heavy on these kids for downloading films and music that we never see a penny from. It's complete bullshit. I want to encourage your audience to go and pirate a bunch of my stuff right away.Strike three.
This is what happens when you fight a stranger in the Alps, Universal. Instead of having a happy artist celebrating the worldwide Blu-ray release of a seminal film, you've got a disgruntled former employee telling people to shoplift the hell out of the store. The studios seem to think they're playing a super-smart "long game" by pushing for extended copyright while simultaneously refusing to relinquish any control over the creations of others. As long as the major studios (and labels) continue operating in this antagonistic fashion, they'll find that their "long game" has left them with nothing to play for. Piracy is a message and it's being repeated by the very artists they thought they had under control.