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Goodbye Sci-Fi

Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy and Bill Corbett reflect on MST3K's final broadcast.

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Variety Reports the Business Side

The show has been making entertainment news the last couple of days, but there’s also the business side, says a report from Variety’s Elizabeth Wagmeister.

Shout! Factory has acquired cult comedy series “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” Variety has learned.

The news of the acquisition comes the same day Joel Hodgson, the creator and writer of “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new season of the show.

With the new deal, negotiated by Shout’s David McIntosh, Shout! Factory now has the proprietary rights the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” from Best Brains Inc., including all brand assets and global intellectual property. The media company is partnering with Hodgson and his company Alternaversal LLC on future endeavors surrounding the “MST3K” brand, including plans for new content development, digital media initiatives, live events, merchandise licensing programs and content syndication to international territories.

“’Mystery Science Theater 3000′ is a true cult-classic comedy series that continues to attract fans till this day,” said Shout! Factory’s founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos. “This is a momentous acquisition for us. We’ve been pursuing this deal for many years, and we’re thrilled that it’s finally coming to fruition. We see that there’s still tremendous untapped potential for the ‘MST3K’ brand. We’re looking forward to the next phase of ‘MST3K’ with Joel.”

Hodgson commented, “I am thrilled to team with Shout! Factory, one of ‘MST3K’s’ greatest supporters, to once again pick up the creative mantle. It’s been a long time coming and I feel ready for the show’s reboot and hopefully lots of new iterations in different media. I’m also looking forward to working with both creative pros and the loyal fan base who have been inspired by our humble show over the years…Actually, I’m not sure if there really is such a thing as a humble show, let me check on that.”

The show’s original producer Jim Mallon added, “Fans of ‘MST3K’ can celebrate as Shout! Factory begins a new ‘MST3K’ adventure with the Crow, Tom Servo, and Gypsy reuniting with Joel Hodgson. Shout! Factory is perfectly placed for this next chapter as they have been our partner and excellent stewards of ‘MST3K’ for the past seven years.”

“Mystery Science Theater 3000,” created by Hodgson and produced by Mallon, first aired on KTMA-TV in Minneapolis for its freshman season, then heading over to Comedy Central (then Comedy Channel) where it ran for seven seasons, and wrapping up with its final three seasons airing on the Sci-Fi Channel. Over its eleven year run, 198 episodes and one feature film, the series won a Peabody Award in 1993 and was nominated for two writing Emmys.

Not sure how “Consolidated Puppets” fits in to all that.

Thanks to Jeff for the heads up.

45 Replies to “Variety Reports the Business Side”

  1. Ralph C says:

    I read this piece yesterday. I like this. I’ve always liked Shout! Factory as they seem to nurture their properties. I wonder if Shout! has rights to movies that will be some of the fodder for the new MST3K. It’s great to know there is still high interest in this show.

    Let’s see what of this future is wrought.

       9 likes

  2. TarlCabot says:

    I’m wondering if they just bought out Jim’s majority, or also his, Joel’s percent and/or Kevin and Trace’s.

       1 likes

  3. Jim Gosney says:

    “including all brand assets and global intellectual property”

    Would “all brand assets” include the KTMA episodes? One can only hope!

       2 likes

  4. Ang says:

    I just saw this at deadline.com and of course had to come over here and see if y’all had the info up yet. As usual Satellite News is on top of things! I’m a little uneasy about new episodes just b/c I’m not sure they can capture lightning in a bottle twice but I love the idea of Shout! having control b/c they have done such a great job with the DVDs and really seem to “get it”. I’m open to new stuff though and definitely look forward to whatever they have in store for us.

       3 likes

  5. Jason says:

    Jim Gosney:
    “including all brand assets and global intellectual property”

    Would “all brand assets” include the KTMA episodes?One can only hope!

    I’m quite sure Shout! already had access to the KTMA episodes and it’s more of a choice not to release them. There’s also the fact that the audience for these episodes is a niche within a niche, and since that doesn’t eliminate the costly exercise of securing the movie rights, it might not be financially viable.

    I’m still holding out for a host segment collection though.

       4 likes

  6. Dan in WI says:

    Jim Gosney:
    “including all brand assets and global intellectual property”

    Would “all brand assets” include the KTMA episodes?One can only hope!

    The KTMA episodes would certainly be a part of this purchase. But as Jason says in #5 what they choose to do with them remains to be seen. I would believe so long as Joel and Shout! have a happy partnership, Joel’s wish to not put them out there will be honored.

       3 likes

  7. Dan in WI says:

    So if Shout! now owns everything, why is there a need for a Kickstarter? You’d think a company that has cracked so many untouchable episode rights could back role the amount they are attempting to raise.

       11 likes

  8. Murker says:

    Since Jim and Joel had final say if the KTMAs would ever be released – and I believe they have voiced before that they did NOT want them released – I really doubt Shout EVER had “access” (permission), as BBI would have to clear it first.

    Shout might need these episodes when they encounter the Great Hart Barrier, when all other options have been exhausted.

    If I had to choose, the Hart Barrier is more important to conquer, not the KTMAs.

    But in truth, I want it ALL.

       3 likes

  9. Jason says:

    If I had to guess, I’d say the KTMAs get officially released some day, at some point, probably via a streaming portal. It’s kind of like the Eric Stoltz footage from Back to the Future. Despite the years of insistence that they don’t want it made public because it might embarrass people, it inevitably happens.

    Plus, the audience for the KTMAs, the absolute die-hards, have already seen them (aside from three). So the genie’s kind of out the bottle as far as the “embarrassment” factor is concerned. So it really just becomes a matter of withholding versions of the KTMA episodes that aren’t of low audio/visual quality, which doesn’t have much value as an objective. Those episodes are what they are, and the fans who go to the trouble of seeking them out are doing so for the academic and historical interest. Like Song of the South, I don’t expect them to end up in the DVD section at Walmart, but I bet a more limited, legal means of getting that content to the people who want it could open up. (When Shout! did their Gamera set, there was a part of me hoping it would come with download codes for the KTMA versions.)

    Something else I’ve thought about: there might be particularly problematic rights issues keeping Season 0 out of the commercial realm. Is it only an urban legend that they didn’t properly secure the rights to show the movies on KTMA at the time? If they were to approach some of these rights holders to retroactively get the permission they eschewed in the first place, that conversation could be…awkward.

       1 likes

  10. inturnaround says:

    I imagine that Consolidated Puppets is the company that holds the liability for pre-sale issues. Existing for awhile to deal with outstanding vendor contracts that have yet to be paid and the like.

    As for Shout! and the Kickstarter…well, this has gotten some press. And it will continue to get press for the next month over the (2?!) Turkey Days and the announcement of the new host and the new Mad. Plus Shout! paid all this money to acquire the property, they may not have the cash flow to invest in new episodes right now, but acknowledge the wisdom of crowdfunding it, letting people vote with their dollars on if it should come back and with how many episodes.

    Movie rights issues aside, you still have to build sets, rent studio space, pay for writers and performers…all of that costs money.

    And remember that all of this reminds Hollywood that MST3K is a viable, evergreen property like Doctor Who and gives them the ability to negotiate from a position of power with possible distribution channels.

       3 likes

  11. Dan in WI says:

    Jason:
    Something else I’ve thought about: there might be particularly problematic rights issues keeping Season 0 out of the commercial realm.Is it only an urban legend that they didn’t properly secure the rights to show the movies on KTMA at the time?If they were to approach some of these rights holders to retroactively get the permission they eschewed in the first place, that conversation could be…awkward.

    It is absolute fact that proper rights were not secured at KTMA. I have to believe that kind of thing happened all the time in the days of actual independently run UHF stations. After all who in Hollywood would ever catch wind of the antics of a little last place station in fly-over country like KTMA. (It’s a totally different story today in the post-independent UHF world of today but that is beside the point.) That said I don’t see that as insurmountable. First of all take Gamera for example. When Shout! released that box set of season three renditions I believe they would have been totally within their rights to release both KTMA and Season 3 at that time. It is my understanding once you secure the rights they are retroactive you can do what you want with them within the terms of the contract. As for other KTMA’s where they never had the rights, if A) You backed up a money truck to the rights holder tomorrow I’m pretty sure that rights holder could overlook the when and how the episode was originally produced or B) Even if the money truck isn’t full to the brim, if the current rights holder needs a payday then an arrangement could be made.

       2 likes

  12. Dan in WI says:

    inturnaround:
    I imagine that Consolidated Puppets is the company that holds the liability for pre-sale issues. Existing for awhile to deal with outstanding vendor contracts that have yet to be paid and the like.

    Most of the time when a corporation is bought out then the purchaser assumes pre-sale liabilities. But even if that is not the case, if Consolidated Puppets is only for some sort of short term issues then why not maintain the Best Brains name a little longer? There has to be more to it than that.

       0 likes

  13. My understanding is that the “MST3K” KTMA footage is at least co-owned by KTMA (and its successors), since it was done as an in-house production. The copyright notice at the end of the KTMAs supports this. Therefore, the rights to that material needs to be cleared through them, as well as the overall MST3K rights holders. I know Joel and Jim were against them being released, but that cat has long been out of the bag. We can all see the vast majority of those episodes now, no matter what they want. (I’ve mentioned here before that K10 – Cosmic Princess is my favorite episode.)

    I hope that Shout!Factory now owning the whole thing (as compared to just licensing it) will mean they will work to get the KTMAs out in a nice, clear condition. It’s where the show started, they are not excluded when anyone talks about how many episodes were produced and there’s some good stuff in there. They deserve to be taken out of the shadows. Not to be compared to the slicker product they made later, but to enjoy them for what they are: damn fine, entertaining low-budget presentations.

       3 likes

  14. cvbwe says:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np3uYJ1L5Mw

    ST3k K17 – Time of the Apes

    This video contains content from Shout! Factory, LLC, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

       0 likes

  15. cvbwe says:

    whoops, missed an M there lol

       0 likes

  16. Jason says:

    I would expect to see Shout! start cracking down on fan-uploaded MST3K episodes in general.

       1 likes

  17. gary bowden says:

    From what Kevin said in the Amazing Colossal Guide about the KTMA episodes being released,I don’t think that season will be released.In a way,I don’t blame them because that doesn’t represent the show as a whole.Only to fans of the show and that’s it.For me,when I’ve watched a few of those episodes,I always end watching the movie and not concentrate on the riffs..I wish Rifftrax and if the MST3K reboot is a go,then I hope they go back and re-riff some of them.

       2 likes

  18. ” that doesn’t represent the show as a whole.Only to fans of the show and that’s it.”

    Yeah. Release them for fans of the show. Do you think there’s a *huge* demand for “Gilligan’s Planet” or that it represents the show as a whole? Well, it’s available on DVD…

       3 likes

  19. Johnny's nonchalance says:

    gary bowden:
    From what Kevin said in the Amazing Colossal Guide about the KTMA episodes being released,I don’t think that season will be released.In a way,I don’t blame them because that doesn’t represent the show as a whole.Only to fans of the show and that’s it.For me,when I’ve watched a few of those episodes,I always end watching the movie and not concentrate on the riffs..I wish Rifftrax and if the MST3K reboot is a go,then I hope they go back and re-riff some of them.

    I’d double my kickstarter contribution if they announced SST Death Flight as one of the movies they will feature

    Crow could contribute a new Peter Graves screenplay

       3 likes

  20. Erich says:

    OK, time for me to sign up for a Shout! account.

       0 likes

  21. TheShadownKnows says:

    So, to break that down, SHOUT now owns MST 3K. Joel will produce and oversee content but they own the show. I’m guessing everyone got a check in the mail who owned a piece of the show.

       0 likes

  22. Goshzilla says:

    Among all this Earth-cleaving craziness, there’s a part of me that’s most excited about the possibility of genuine MST3K merchandise. Pop Vinyl bobbleheads, please?

    Murker:
    If I had to choose, the Hart Barrier is more important to conquer, not the KTMAs.

    But in truth, I want it ALL.

    Agreed, but more importantly, “the Great Hart Barrier is a wonderful turn of phrase. *hand clapping gif* There’s also reacquiring the Gamera license and, of course, Toho. The KTMAs are way down the priority list.

    cvbwe:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np3uYJ1L5Mw

    MST3k K17 – Time of the Apes

    This video contains content from Shout! Factory, LLC, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

    Wow. That was fast. Hmmm…

       1 likes

  23. Doug Glassman says:

    Goshzilla:
    Among all this Earth-cleaving craziness, there’s a part of me that’s most excited about the possibility of genuine MST3K merchandise. Pop Vinyl bobbleheads, please?

    Real action figures. Not the little statues that came with the DVD sets, but a Crow with extendable legs or a Mike-as-Janeway variant.

       4 likes

  24. bad wolf says:

    I’m with gary bowden on this eternal KTMA question. If Cinematic Titanic had bothered to riff one of those movies i’d have been delighted. To keep hounding them to release what they thought of at the time as a one-time improv performance… the only thing I would get out of that was that people would finally comment about something else.

       2 likes

  25. casimar says:

    Pardon me, but what is the “Great Hart Barrier”?

       0 likes

  26. cvbwe says:

    Susan Hart is the heir to the AIP rights and has been an issue in clearing AIP movies for Shout.

       1 likes

  27. Murker says:

    Goshzilla:
    Agreed, but more importantly, “the Great Hart Barrier is a wonderful turn of phrase. *hand clapping gif* There’s also reacquiring the Gamera license and, of course, Toho. The KTMAs are way down the priority list.

    Thanks. And you are 100 percent right about Toho and Gamera trumping KTMA concerns. I got the Gameras dirt cheap on Amazon when it first came out. I couldn’t believe it when it happened. I want other hardcore fans who missed out to have the same opportunity.

    I used to believe Toho was an impossibility, but not anymore.

    The sky is the limit, and Shout appears more serious than I could have ever imagined.

    But the Hart Barrier …. It’s like that old puzzle of “an unstoppable force meets an immovable object.”

       0 likes

  28. ILoveMST3KPromos says:

    Allow me to come out from my lurking mode to inform you of something. You may or may not know that I run a YouTube page devoted to MST Promos, because I love them. I also put up the old KTMA clips from the unseen K01-K03 episodes. About a month ago, several of my videos were flagged for copyright content, including the KTMA clips. The notice said that Shout Factory LLC owns those clips, but they’re fine with them being up as long as they could put ads on them. I chuckled to myself, Shout Factory doesn’t own MST3K!
    Cut to a month later, and I realize I was given a clue before all this went down. So yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus and Shout owns the KTMA footage as well.

       6 likes

  29. underwoc says:

    Hmmmm. Interesting timing with Rifftrax suddenly being able to offer MST3K streaming…

       2 likes

  30. JeremyR says:

    The later KTMA stuff is as good as any of their CC stuff (and in most cases, far better than the Sci-Fi years which is brought down by the terrible skits)

       2 likes

  31. JimB says:

    cvbwe:
    Susan Hart is the heir to the AIP rights and has been an issue in clearing AIP movies for Shout.

    I watched the AIP documentary that came with Volume 34 last night. Short answer: Susan Hart was the Yoko Ono of AIP. Jim Nicholson divorced his wife (losing much of his share of AIP in the process) to marry her, and the whole thing started coming apart. I suspect she believes she is “protecting his legacy”, although I doubt many people would have seen an AIP film after independent local TV died without MST3K.

       3 likes

  32. misANThropist says:

    I doubt many people would have seen an AIP film after independent local TV died without MST3K.

    Actually, there are a lot of AIP titles currently airing on the various dtv movie channels right now. Hell, even Larry Buchanan’s TV movies are in surprisingly heavy rotation. Never doubt that an interest exists outside of the MST3K bubble.

       0 likes

  33. bchat says:

    Perhaps everyone will finally get to see the very first KTMA episode as a special bonus for the 30th anniversary set.

    Am I missing something regarding the “Great Hart Barrier” (the AIP rights)? Daddy-O (an AIP film) was part of the XXXIII set, and I’ve read that Orion Pictures holds the rights to the majority of AIP’s film library, so what films could Susan Hart possibly be making us miss-out on?

       0 likes

  34. Dan in WI says:

    JeremyR:
    The later KTMA stuff is as good as any of their CC stuff

    I think that is going a little far. But I will say the later KTMA stuff is on par with the early Season 1 stuff. In fact I thought the first several season 1 episodes actually went backward a bit from the late KTMA stuff.

       5 likes

  35. Kenneth says:

    bchat:
    Perhaps everyone will finally get to see the very first KTMA episode as a special bonus for the 30th anniversary set.

    Am I missing something regarding the “Great Hart Barrier” (the AIP rights)?Daddy-O (an AIP film) was part of the XXXIII set, and I’ve read that Orion Pictures holds the rights to the majority of AIP’s film library, so what films could Susan Hart possibly be making us miss-out on?

    Hart only owns the rights to 11 pictures; but 5 of them were MSTied. You can see the full list on her Wikipedia page. The MSTied ones are It Conquered the World, The Amazing Colossal Man, Terror from the Year 5000, I Was a Teenage Werewolf, and Attack of the Eye Creatures

       0 likes

  36. @horrordad says:

    I’d like to see an new book on MST3K, leading into the new project. They docs are great & I’d love to see some old BTS photos & fan-stuff. Maybe intergrate the old AC Episode guide, with those guides on this site, the story of MST3k productions with all the skeletons (not allusions to stuff that have slowly trickled), and the post-series stuff (Rifftrax/CT, failed-cartoons).

    Where is Paul Chaplin in all of this? :-P

       3 likes

  37. DK says:

    cvbwe:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=np3uYJ1L5Mw

    ST3k K17 – Time of the Apes

    This video contains content from Shout! Factory, LLC, who has blocked it on copyright grounds.

    Given that Shout Factory has gone out of their way to give access to free episodes through both their own portal and YouTube (That’s more than what many other companies have done with shows like this) I support them protecting their rights.

       3 likes

  38. Brandon says:

    I second Mr. Dad above. I would love to see a 30th-anniversary episode guide come out. It would be great to have one comprehensive survey of the series’ history on the shelf. It seems like that would be way down on the (former) Brains’ priority lists, but hey, as long as we’re all dreaming…

       4 likes

  39. Beast says:

    Another good thing about Shout Factory owning MST3K… merchandising!! :D

    Beast ?@XMenHankMcCoy

    @ShoutFactory Since you guys own MST3K now… is there any chance we might see you licensing it for merchandise? I’d love some Funko Pops!

    Shout! Factory ?@ShoutFactory

    @XMenHankMcCoy Ha! Love it. We do plan on exploring merch, but nothing is set in stone at this time.

    https://twitter.com/ShoutFactory/status/665226141238587392

       2 likes

  40. Turquoise Plastic Pith Helmet says:

    JeremyR:
    The later KTMA stuff is as good as any of their CC stuff (and in most cases, far better than the Sci-Fi years which is brought down by the terrible skits)

    You’re not fooling anyone “JeremyR” – you’re EricJ in disguise.

       10 likes

  41. Goshzilla says:

    Forget action figures and vinyl collectibles. Two words: Plush. Bots.

    Turquoise Plastic Pith Helmet: You’re not fooling anyone “JeremyR” – you’re EricJ in disguise.

    Whoa, hey now. That’s character assassination. Jeremy could sue you for slander. He didn’t use the words Mike, bully, fratboy, or jocks in his post, so I’m not convinced he’s EricJ.

    The SciFi years did have some lousy skits, especially Season 8 (Space Mutiny really stands out), which was at least half the network’s fault for imposing their dumbass “story arc” requirement, but saying the later KTMAs are stronger is just nonsense… Okay, maybe he is EricJ.

       7 likes

  42. mnenoch says:

    Goshzilla:
    Forget action figures and vinyl collectibles. Two words: Plush. Bots.

    Whoa, hey now. That’s character assassination. Jeremy could sue you for slander. He didn’t use the words Mike, bully, fratboy, or jocks in his post, so I’m not convinced he’s EricJ.

    The SciFi years did have some lousy skits, especially Season 8 (Space Mutiny really stands out), which was at least half the network’s fault for imposing their dumbass “story arc” requirement, but saying the later KTMAs are stronger is just nonsense… Okay, maybe he is EricJ.

    Yes because every CC skit was gold. I think it’s safe to say that both CC and SciFi had terrible skits (although I like Space Mutiny skits). To say that KTMA skits were better than most of the SciFi skits is borderline insane.

    Anyway it is interesting that Shout ended up with the MST3K rights. I wonder how much we’re going to see them kicking off episodes on the internet. I’m guessing much more now, even though episodes that weren’t ripped from the DVD’s were generally left alone.

    Ironically in all this is that one of the reasons that MST3K has kept such a strong audience is because of the availability of the episodes to watch. First with the tape traders and then the tape copiers and later the dvd copiers and then the archive project with downloadable episodes and then streaming episodes on youtube.

       4 likes

  43. FordPrefect says:

    Speaking of Consolidated Puppets Incorporated, does anyone know details on that company’s present state and possible future? Will it have a connection to Shout Factory’s MST3K?

       0 likes

  44. Matt Robare says:

    They should have called it ConGypsCo instead of Consolidated Puppets.

    Also, does it have ISO 9001 certification?

       2 likes

  45. Isai76 says:

    Jim Mallon was a big roadblock at one point. I assume that’s now over. Now Joel is in control. Which is great news especially that new and exciting wonderful things are happening!

    Does that mean that Mallon is now out of the picture? I still hold a grudge for some of his perceived dealings. Perhaps not deserving of it but I put him as a bad guy.

       0 likes

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