Criterion loses rights to all Merchant Ivory titles

Mark-P

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This just posted on Criterion's Facebook page:
All the films in our Merchant Ivory collection, plus our Criterion releases of HOWARDS END (pictured), are going out of print. We’re selling them through the end of June.
Looks like I'll have to grab a copy of Howards End on Blu-ray before it's gone, since it's the only BD of Howards End that will play in region A.
 

Lord Dalek

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Well I guess that'll make that guy who keeps complaining about the grain on Howards' End happy.
 

Charles Smith

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Oh lordy, here we go again.

Is there a quick and dirty list of their Merchant Ivory titles somewhere?
 

Lord Dalek

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Apparently its due to a dispute between Ivory and his bond company, not Studio Canal.
 

seangood79

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Well since Howard's End on Blu was a result of a poll by Criterion, maybe it's time for another one. Or maybe I had voted for Picnic at Hanging Rock and am still bitter that it hasn't been released yet.
 

Charles Smith

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At a glance, I don't know how many of those titles I know enough or care enough about to go crazy acquiring them right now. I'll do some checking today.
 

jimmyjet

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does criterion get a license that allows them to make only so much of a title ?
 

Derrick King

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No, Criterion licenses titles for a set amount of time, usually a number of years. These are going OOP because of this.

Janus' rights to HOWARDS END was supposed to end March 13, 2014. I guess the early termination was part of the settlement.
 

Kevin EK

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My understanding of the dispute is that it's a money/distribution rights matter.

Criterion's license was renewed through a third party company, which Criterion understood to have the authority to negotiate it. Turns out that Merchant Ivory had a different idea about that. So Merchant Ivory sued both Janus and the third party, essentially saying "these guys didn't have that authority and you shouldn't have worked through them." I note that Merchant Ivory had no complaint to speak of about the QUALITY of the discs. It was simply a matter of who negotiated the rights to release them. The fact that the matter settled with both sides paying their own costs tells me this was not a huge matter.

In the end here, Criterion's license lapses and these titles go out of print. Merchant Ivory is free to try another distributor if they believe this will get them a better situation. Frankly, I think they would have been better off staying with Criterion. But licenses lapse all the time.
 

Derrick King

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Kevin EK said:
Merchant Ivory is free to try another distributor if they believe this will get them a better situation. Frankly, I think they would have been better off staying with Criterion.
So true, especially in this market, I'm not sure any other distributor will treat those films as well as Janus/Criterion did.
 
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Escapay

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Derrick King said:
No, Criterion licenses titles for a set amount of time, usually a number of years. These are going OOP because of this.
Could this be why Warner/BBC's Blu-Ray for A Room with a View went OOP a few years ago? Or did that licence just expire and they couldn't renew it?

It's my favorite Merchant Ivory film (granted, I've only seen a few of their films), I was always hoping Criterion would pick it up for their line.

I guess I'll have to order Jane Austen in Manhattan, Heat and Dust, Maurice, and Howards End sooner rather than later.
 

Ken Volok

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I wouldn't bother with "Jane Austen in Manhattan" unless you're an absolute completist.
 

Derrick King

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Escapay said:
Could this be why Warner/BBC's Blu-Ray for A Room with a View went OOP a few years ago? Or did that licence just expire and they couldn't renew it?
This doesn't have anything to do with that. I imagine the second scenario you mention is right. The license expired and, for whatever reason, it wasn't renewed.
 

Cinescott

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It's a shame these Merchant Ivory films are getting so hard to find on Blu-ray, since they seem ideally suited for the format. I have A Room With a View and Howards End and both are tremendously detailed.

I coincidentally happened to be in London during the original theatrical release of Howards End and saw it on an enormous screen in Mayfair. Great experience.
 
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Moe Dickstein

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They say they renewed the deal with a third party who criterion was told controlled the rights but didnt.M/I were always incredibly difficult to deal with, even to the point of insisting on their own branding rather than being included in the collection. The CC branded Howard's end only came much later than the original deal
 

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