Friday, March 16, 2012

Another question about trailers

A few days ago, TCM actually showed a trailer for Drums Along the Mohawk, which aired last night. I found this mildly surprising, largely because Drums Along the Mohawk is a Fox movie. It makes me wonder who owns the rights to the trailers. I would have thought that the studios would make the trailers in-house, which presumably means they'd hold the rights to the trailers. The studios would, my thinking would have been, also have been less likely to hold on to the trailers since they're not so necessary. But then, back in the early days of silents, it was not uncommon for studios to send prints from one place to the next, with the most far-flung places getting to show a movie rather later than in Los Angeles or London; the expectation was that the people showing these movies in the middle of nowhere would dispose of the copies after they were no longer commercially viable, since this would be much more economical than sending prints back to the studio. This explains the discovery of Alfred Hitchcock's The White Shado in New Zealand: the prints weren't destroyed. The upshot of this is that I could imagine trailers not going back to the studio, and possibly not having the same copyright as the original movies. (I also don't know the copyright implications for using clips on the TV movie review shows. I'd think it falls under fair use, but I'm not a copyright lawyer, and I wouldn't be surprised if the suits at Disney tried to make it more difficult for people to use clips in reviews.)

Complicating matters is the re-release. It wasn't that uncommon for a studio's more popular titles to get a second release, and as I understand it, some of the distribution for the re-releases wasn't necessarily handled by the studio that made the original movie, if IMDb is to be believed. Would the distributor have made the trailer for the re-release, and held any rights to it?

Still, it's nice to see trailers from all the studios and not just the trailers for the films Ted Turner acquired the rights to. Even if some of them are strange, like the trailer to Love Affair I mentioned above. The trailer for Drums Along the Mohawk doesn't actually mention the names of the actors, and is in black and white.

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