from the wkrp-like dept
One of the best examples of copyright being used to stifle the sharing of content is the fact that no one is able to see the famous sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati in its intended form because no one can get the licenses to use the music that was part of the original show. Instead, all of the great classic rock that was used has been replaced with not-very-good made up songs. It appears that something similar happened with the 1986 movie version of Little Shop of Horrors. Apparently, the DVD release contained a special “alternate ending” that cost $5 million and 11-months to produce, showing 24-minutes of footage of an army of giant plants devouring New York City. The apparently gruesome ending upset test audiences and wasn’t used in the movie release — but was available on the DVD… for a grand total of five days until someone realized that there were (of course) copyright problems and the DVD was recalled. Warner Bros. Studios promised that the ending would be rereleased on DVD, but while the studios fought over copyright issues, apparently the original footage was burned in a fire. Ain’t copyright great?
10 Zen Monkeys looks into the history of the lost footage, noting that even while the studio argued over the content which ended up lost in a fire, some folks have uploaded the alternate ending to YouTube. Now, obviously, this is technically in violation of copyright, but considering that the studio let the original version burn up in a studio fire, doesn’t it make sense to let the content remain?
The article linked above notes a few interesting other factoids around the story — including the fact that in the alternate ending, there’s a scene where an agent is haggling over the rights to the story of the killer plant, and exclaims: “We don’t have to deal with you. A god-damn vegetable is public domain! You ask our lawyers!” Turns out he was wrong, apparently. Also, the original 1960s version of the movie was shot in two days, in order to get it done before the end of 1959 — because after 1959, any movie would have to pay residuals to actors. We’ve pointed out how destructive such royalty agreements can be, and as the article notes, it made it much harder to create certain types of movies. Just a few more stories of unfortunate results of a bad system.
Filed Under: alternate ending, copyright, little shop of horrors