B5 Crusade Box Set -- 4:3 ?

Discussion in 'TV on DVD and Blu-ray' started by RichD, Sep 6, 2004.

  1. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    To hear JMS tell it, it was the L.A. offices of TNT that were responsible for bringing B5 back for season 5. They seemed to "get" the show. Once Crusade started, the corporate offices in Atlanta got involved. Apparently, their idea of entertainment were the "Wrasslin'" shows on the network and they started pressuring JMS to sex up the show and put in more fight scenes. The brawl at the beginning of the second pilot episode was result of network meddling as was the affair between Gideon and Lochley.
     
  2. Michael Sliger

    Michael Sliger Second Unit

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    For the real and true story of TNT's interference with Crusade, you will have to wait until you hear the commentary track to "Racing the Night". JMS did get clearance to tell the whole truth there despite the fact that it puts TNT (and Time Warner in general) in a bad light. Let's just say that the contradictions and "sex it up" comments were all part of a larger conspiracy.

    http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1...de%20and%20DVD
    (scroll down about halfway)
     
  3. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

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    Hmmm, the story has gotten more interesting since last I heard it told...
     
  4. Joshua_W

    Joshua_W Second Unit

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    Hmmm. I've never read the full transcript from JMS's high school appearance.


    I hope he pulls this off someday...

    Be nice if he could do a "Crusade" comic book series at Vertigo or Wildstorm. (It'll have to be a DC imprint because it's a Time-Warner property.)
     
  5. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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    They have made tons of money just off the DVDs alone. They just don't want to put that money back into the franchise.
     
  6. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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    I'm pretty sure he wants to finish Crusade on film. Not on paper.
     
  7. Joshua_W

    Joshua_W Second Unit

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    It would probably be next to impossible to complete Crusade in any way other through comics or novels.

    Since Crusade barely started, I'm sure that there's too much story to tell in a single movie, or even a handful of movies. (Doing so would be like Babylon 5 having been cancelled with the "By Any Means Necessary" episode, and then trying the shoe-horn the next 4 1/2 years of story into a movie.)

    Also, it would probably be a logistical nightmare to reassemble the cast and recreate all of the sets. And even if they could, the cast would've visibly aged... it's already been five years since it started, and it would probably take a couple more years to get the ball rolling on a continuation.

    The only other option would be to recast the series and re-start it from scratch. (Bring back whatever actors you could, recast the ones you can't, bring in new characters...) But in a way I'd hate to see that happen, because it would retcon out Richard Biggs' final appearance in the B5 Universe.
     
  8. Philip Verdieck

    Philip Verdieck Second Unit

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    Not so. They are getting ready to dump 40+M into a Movie, The Memory of Shadows. There have also been talks about other B5 stuff.

    What WB wants to do is not pay out any profits out of what they are making on B5.
     
  9. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    Yes it seems that the creative types don't get rewards from successful shows that they deserve. But to put in a word for the "evil" studios, it isn't all about greed.

    Just on the TV side the studios spend untold millions of dollars each year on development, scripts and pilots for shows that never get picked up, never air, and never make them a single dime. They also often go into production on series for which they cannot charge the networks their whole production cost as license fees - so they deficit finance them, losing money episode by episode in the hope of eventually making the money back in syndication. But until very recently, it was impossible to sell a show into syndication that didn't have at least 100 episodes in the can. So every show that got cancelled anywhere short of its fourth year was a dead loss to the studio.

    The only place the studio TV divisions can get their money back on all the failed shows is to charge their costs to the successful ones. True, this results in writers, actors and producers on hit shows seeing their theoretical profits go up in smoke, but nobody asks any of these same "profit participants" to kick in to make up on the deficits of all the bombs they wrote, produced and acted in. The formulas used are almost certainly unfair, and too much nonsense ends up getting charged to productions (one studio famously sent a hugely expensive bouquet to the producer/star of a series and charged it to the production. [​IMG]) But it is silly to pretend that the studios are motivated purely by greed (as opposed to the angelic motives of the "talent") or that there isn't a case to be made for "cross-colatoralizing revenue streams".

    A couple of years ago JMS did raise the possibility of finishing the Crusade story in book form, an idea that he had previously rejected. He's also said that a new series of authorized novels in the works. These two statements may have nothing to do with one another. [​IMG]

    He's also mentioned that there are at least two other B5 universe projects now in the works that have come up since TMoS, and when asked questions about Crusade at a comic convention this summer indicated that for some reason he could not answer - and usually the only thing that will keep him from answering a question is a business deal or pending discussion of same.


    If that were true then all Warner Bros.-produced TV shows would have to air on The WB or TNT/TBS and those networks would only buy shows from their own studio. This simply isn't the case. Publishing rights for a comic book or other published version of Crusade would go to whoever wanted them. If a DC imprint, fine, but if the DC imprints weren't interested or someone else offered more money, Time-Warner corporate relationships wouldn't amount to a hill of beans. (T-W also isn't nearly as tightly-integrated as some of the other media giants. Hell, Warner Bros. itself most operates as a set of semi-independent fiefdoms that barely talk to each other. That's why the first U.S. home video releases of B5 were VHS tapes from Columbia House. Warner Home Video wasn't interested in releasing a "mere" TV series.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  10. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    No conformation yet on the budget, or the title, or the fact that it is a movie. (Unless something has changed that I haven't seen.)

    Jason
     
  11. Moe*A

    Moe*A Stunt Coordinator

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    We have had confirmation from JMS that the title is The Memory of Shadows. There have been a few hints that the project is a film, in an posting earlier this year he stated that if he said too much about the project at this stage WB would put a 2:35:1 shaped hole in his head and in a very recent posting he said that he has handing in his next to final draft on the screenplay. I imagine the word screenplay is reserved for big features, are TV shows just referred to as scripts or Teleplay?

    The project is probably far from going into production, heck WB have made no official statement but I guess the DVD have sold a lot, half a billion according to a posting above, $40 M would be a small amount to hand back for a movie especially considering that B5 has a loyal, though be it small, following around the world. Factor in foreign ticket sales and the DVD market it would have to be a disaster of a movie not to make back its money and some profit. I am confident that we will see something new in the B5 universe in the next few years.
     
  12. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Thanks Joshua. I have often wondered about that, and its nice to have an explanation.
     
  13. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    There's no reason to doubt that The Memory of Shadows is a theatrical film. After his "2.35:1 hole in the wall" hint JMS said he was amazed at how many people had twigged to what he thought was a fairly obscure clue. Since every usenet post that I saw on the subject correctly identified that as a theatrical film ratio, I don't think there's much room for doubt. "Screenplay" can also be used for the script for a TV show (especially one shot on film, or for a TV movie) but "2.35:1" only means one thing.

    As for the film's possible budget - the $40 million figure is purely somebody's guess, and I suspect it is on the low end. Several years ago JMS talked about the budgets for the B5 TV movies, which averaged about $2.5 to $3 million, and said he thought his team coule produce a hell of a theatrical film for $35 to $50 million - at a time when the average non-F/X Hollywood "A" picture (not necessarily one with big-name stars) cost about $50 million. So it was really a "we've done so much with so little for so long that we could do something really spectucular for what the studios blow on a Paulie Shore 'comedy'" kinda comment - not a serious budget estimate. And, in any event, it was years old.

    B5 is untested in the theatrical marketplace, so WB will have reason to keep costs down. But the B5 cast aren't in a position to demand huge salaries, certainly not for what may only be movie #1, so that won't be a problem. And the show has proved hugely successful on home video - which is why they're doing a theatrical film in the first place. (Modesty forbids me from mentioning the name of the person who predicted that strong DVD sales could revive the on-again/off-again theatrical movie project - back in 1998. [​IMG]) Between projected DVD sales, overseas box office, airline, pay per view, premium cable, first-run TV and subsequent TV airings (plus all of the same overseas) WB could probably give the film a quite substantial budget and still be assured of breaking even if they don't sell a single ticket domestically. This is virtually a risk-free proposition for them, and the potential up-side to finally establishing B5 as the kind of Trek-like "brand" franchise through additional films and spin-offs is practically unlimited.

    With ST:TOS it was surprising success in (broadcast) syndication that made an obscure, cancelled show a cult hit and positioned the show to be remembered when Star Wars got Hollywood to see outer space and SF as a money-maker again. In the fractionalized, post-cable-and-satellite world of contemporary TV, syndicated reruns can't work that kind of magic for any series, much less a demanding, arc-driven show like B5 that really has to be followed closely to be appreciated. But DVD proved the perfect medium for the show. Not only is the existing fanbase buying the series, but those folks are lending their sets to friends, who get hooked and buy their own copies and lend them to friends... And eventually constitute a really substantial audience for a theatrical movie.

    At the rate the DVDs are selling, I don't think you can call the B5 audience "small" anymore. It isn't Trek-sized, or Star Wars-sized, but it hasn't been a franchise and cultural icon for going on 40 years, nor was it kicked off by the then-highest-grossing film of all time. For a ten year old show seen mostly on independent broadcast stations and two cable channels that many cable systems don't even carry, the series is doing pretty well in terms of audience size.

    Don't forget, a movie that sells tickets to 2 million people at $7 to $10 a pop is doing pretty well. (Every mega-blockbuster like Jaws, the original Star Wars and Titanic has done so thanks to repeat ticket buyers, not by attracting a much audience.) A TV show that draws 2 million viewers on broadcast television is a bomb and gets cancelled in six weeks. It takes a much bigger audience to succeed in television than in the movies.


    I agree. I would not be surprised to see something for Summer 2006, or possibly even Christmas 2005, although the latter might be pushing it. It all depends on how fast WB wants to move and the availability of cast and crew. JMS said he has recently turned in what he expects to be the second-to-last draft of the script (allowing for one more round of notes from the studio and/or director) and the broad outlines of the story were worked out last year, so there's plenty of pre-production work that can have started as soon as the project was greenlit. (They know all the stuff from the series that will have to be redesigned and recreated both to take advantaqe of the bigger budget and to stand up to scrutiny on the big screen: Sets, alien make-ups, matte paintings, 3d CGI models, alien make-ups. And major locations and sets like Minbar, IA headquarters, EarthDome, etc. will have been established in the early script treatments and pretty much locked in by the time the production was given the go-ahead. The action and dialogue that takes place within the sets and locations may change, but not the places themselves. So again, location scouts, designs, set construction, CGI modelling can all be going forward now, if indeed some of them aren't already finished.)

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  14. MatthewLouwrens

    MatthewLouwrens Producer

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    Did he really? That seemed like a pretty obvious clue to me. At the time I was surprised that JMS would make such an obvious confirmation that it was a theatrical movie.
     
  15. Joseph DeMartino

    Joseph DeMartino Lead Actor

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    But then, you're a member of the Home Theater Forum and likely to be up on such things. Living as we do in something of an HT echo-chamber, we sometimes forget that not everyone is so aware of these things. JMS just didn't think that enough of the audience he was dealing with at the convention would know what 2.35:1 meant in this context, but that as word spread the few who did would explain it to those who didn't. Instead when the transcript of his talk was posted on usenet and elsewhere most of the posts that mentioned the clue were from people understood exactly what it meant and explained to the others why this pretty much had to mean theatrical movie.

    Regards,

    Joe
     
  16. Michael Sliger

    Michael Sliger Second Unit

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    A bit of news about the Crusade boxset hit the web early this morning. Many fans were expecting some scathing comments about TNT from JMS in his commentary track, but were confused when they weren't present. It turns out that Warner or New Wave Entertainment edited them out without JMS' approval.

    http://www.jmsnews.com/msg.aspx?id=1-17253
     
  17. NeilO

    NeilO Producer

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    I forgot about this 4:3 discussion and was a bit surprised to see the aspect when I popped my discs in. Still, when watching the episodes with the commentaries, I was still pulled in.

    It is unfortunate that we didn't hear JMS' original comments, but we probably have read most of what he had to say.

    The extras were interesting even if there were not all that much. The feeling I got the most from viewing the extras and listening to the commentaries is that we really missed out on a great series. There was a lot coming down the line that would have been great television.

    I wish they had included the two scripts that JMS provided online a number of years back. I think one had another visit from Bester and the other was the season finale cliffhanger (which JMS actually discusses in passing in the commentary).

    When I go back and watch the series itself again, I need to remember to go to JMS' episode list and watch them in that order. At least with DVDs we can easily watch the episodes in any order we feel like. The episodes are on the disks in the origina; TNT aired order.

    Neil
     
  18. Clay_E

    Clay_E Stunt Coordinator

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    Oh, I bet the fur's going to fly over that.... !
     
  19. Stephane

    Stephane Stunt Coordinator

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    I wonder why they would let JMS think and make the commentary explaining the truth and then just edit it out without the expressed permission of JMS. Of well, I guess that this is show business and that we will never see the truth come around.

    It should be interesting to see the movie if ever they make one. Does anyone know if we are talking about having the original crew? An does anyone have a clue whether or not it would follow the Babylon 5 story arc?

    I know that this may not be common knowledge, but just asking.
     
  20. Rob T

    Rob T Screenwriter

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