Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Who owns the rights to the Goldwyn films?

I was surprised in a sad way to notice on TCM's online schedule page that The Best Years of Our Lives, which is airing tonight at 9:45 PM, is apparently not available for purchase from TCM's online shop. IMDb, which partners with Amazon, says that it's avaialable on DVD, and the Amazon links certainly do show DVDs of the movie that you can buy. But they're all overpriced, with the release dates being years and years ago, which implies that the movie is out of print.

I was wondering who has the rights to it, until I did a bit of research. The movie was made by the "Samuel Goldwyn Compnay", but was originally released to theaters by RKO as a distributor. IMDb's "company credits" page for the film lists MGM/UA Home Entertainment as having released the film on DVD back in 2000, but presumably they only contracted with Goldwyn (or its corporate heirs) to release the DVD. Actually, IMDb's use of "Samuel Goldwyn Company" may be a misprint. I don't recall what the credits to the film say -- I think it might just be "Samuel Goldwyn Presents" or something similar -- but the company name at the time was "Samuel Goldwyn Productions", which is a different company from the "Samuel Goldwyn Company", which was founded by Sam Goldwyn, Jr. in the late 1970s. (At least, this is if my cursory Wikipedia research is correct.) Wikipedia says Warner Bros. has the rights to the movies now, with a link to Blu-ray.com listing the Goldwyn films to which WB acquired the rights. (There are a few, such as Porgy and Bess, which have other rights issues.) Theoretically, this means that WHV, which is under the same corporate underlords as TCM (I think) should be able to release The Best Years of Our Lives to DVD and/or Blu-ray.

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