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So which studio owns the RKO SHORT FILMS?

Discussion in 'DVD' started by MarcoBiscotti, Feb 24, 2006.

  1. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Warner Bros. made it clear in this week's chat that they do not hold license over any of the RKO short film library featuring the likes of Robert Benchley and other such films.

    That being the case, who does own these films and what are the chances that we will see them issued to DVD in the next couple of years?

    I'd personally kill for a single-disc compilation of classic RKO comedy shorts on DVD!
     
  2. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

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    I'm not sure...

    But I think that C&C Television got the entire RKO library, but kept the short subjects after selling off the features. The remaining library (shorts and cartoons) seem to have been put in United Artists' hands.

    In short, it's possible Sony now holds the films.

    The problem is that nearly all of them are public domain.
     
  3. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    So being that they are in p.d. - the question is who has access to the masters?

    Unfortunately, if the answer really is Sony, that would mean our chances of ever seeing these released to DVD are a long shot.

    It would be great if TCM or a similar third party could somehow license them out for distribution after some restoration work on the prints. Public domain property is both a blessing and disaster in many cases!
     
  4. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    RKO sold their library of film shorts a year before they sold off certain rights in their feature library to C&C.

    The film shorts were sold to a completely different company.

    The only RKO shorts WB has are a few RKO-Pathe semi-newsreels that were made in 1955 & 1956, after the bulk of the shorts were sold to another company (I believe it was Guild Films).

    Information about these transactions can be found quite easily if you can locate old Film Daily Yearbooks at a good cinema studies library. Specifically for the years 1955-59, all these transactions of library licensing and sales are well documented there.

    The last owner of the RKO shorts film library was own a small film distribution company that was headed up by a man named Jackson Dube.

    RKO never made any cartoons, nor did they own any. They merely distributed for other 3rd parties, most notably Disney.

    Also, most of the RKO shorts are NOT in the public domain. Several are, but the majority are not.

    Sony most assuredly has no ownership in these shorts.
     
  5. Will Ryan

    Will Ryan Agent

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    If Warner/Turner doesn't have the rights to BUDDY BUDDY (an MGM picture released thru UA in 1982, then who has this? Sony with the UA titles?
     
  6. Mark Edward Heuck

    Mark Edward Heuck Screenwriter

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    I don't know for certain, but I recall that in the late '80's, when RKO was still a sort of company (owned WOR in N.Y., did their own home video releases), at roughly the same time, Orion television was soliciting a strip series for syndication called "That's Funny," which would feature puppets introducing classic RKO shorts. To the best of my knowledge, it never made it past the pilot stage.

    Roger, do you know if this Jackson Dube fellow was involved with this program, maybe he made the deal for the shorts usage? I'm wondering if maybe it was a longterm deal and that MGM may actually have an interest in the shorts now.
     

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