DADDY-O'S DRIVE-IN DIRT
SCI FI ARCHIVES
archives of the MST3K pages previously hosted by the Sci-Fi Channel's SCIFI.COM.
First off, my sincere thanks
Chris and Brian for giving me this venue to share information about
our MST3K releases with the fans. And thank you for the questions!
This site has been an invaluable resource to me, and it's the most
informative, passionate, vibrant and colorful fan site I know.
Do you plan to re-release any items previously released by Rhino,
with or without new content?
We certainly hope to...at some point. Many of the episodes Rhino
releases are still under license and won't be available for years.
What will hopefully happen sooner is the release of some of those
Many of your questions asked about material you'd like to be
included as extras--from work done by the show's cast before and
after MST to various specials, promos and live event coverage. So
I'll address them all here. One of the greatest things about working
on MST3K DVD's is depth and richness of the library. The brilliant
episodes aside, those guys produced a substantial amount of great
extra material. Network specials, promos, convention footage---the
list, as you know, goes on and on. Now add to that all the stuff
they did before the show and all the stuff they've done since. Then
add to that whatever bonus material we may do with them in the
future. Most series that Shout Factory releases have a threshold of
extras, either because only so many cast members are alive or it's a
short story to tell or talent isn't interested or available. But
with MST3K, hell, we'll run out of shows to release before we run
out of extra feature possibilities. I say possibilities because
there are obviously limitations to what we can include on any given
box, or else we'd load them to the gills. The budget and time
required to clear them (assuming the licensor is even interested in
making a deal) always factor in. We're not talking big bucks, so I
can't really blame a network or studio for taking their time. And
given Shout's heavy release schedule (we're only about 60 people
here), our production time is limited. All that said, of course I'm
trying to get everything. I want everything that you want. But
unfortunately it'll take a while. While we're working on that,
though, we are always looking for other fun stuff. I love to hunt
down talent from the films and interview them; and if they have a
sense of humor about their movies, then I think it makes for a great
extra. So the headline is, there will always be extras on our
boxes. Your suggestions are incredibly helpful to us, and we
Any possibilities of getting any of the KTMA episodes on DVD?
I definitely appreciate the demand for KTMA episodes. But from a
business perspective, I think our boxes are better served by the
Comedy (Channel) Central / Sci Fi episodes and there are so many
left to release. Shout Factory's prime directive has always been
to give fans of a series what they remember and love. Most people,
it's fair to say, haven't seen the KTMA episodes. And for those of
you who have seen them, I think you'll agree that they are not as
strong. But I attribute that to the fact that the guys were just
revving up, honing their skills...and improvising, which is always
hit and miss no matter who does it. Still, there is unquestionably
value in presenting them in some fashion on our boxes as extras. I
might as well take this opportunity to answer the scrapbook question
here, since it's relevant. Two extras on our upcoming XV are from
the scrapbook. We've re-titled them "Glimpses of KTMA: MST3K
Scrapbook Scraps I" and "Behind the scenes: MST3K Scrapbook Scraps
II" (which replaces the MIT extra). Believe me, I'd love to
include the whole scrapbook, but it's loaded with clearance
problems. Some of them we'll solve eventually; some we won't.
As any fan of the show would say, that's a tough one to answer. But
for me it's "Mitchell."
The likelihood of this one coming out is very, very, very small. I'm
talking quark. Never say never, I guess, but the rights holder, on
the three occasions I've approached him, has politely declined to
license his film and said he wasn't likely to change his mind.
Tell us your most interesting acquisition story (or failed
attempt at an acquisition?)
Nothing too colorful to report, really. When I started making
inquiries for "Incredibly Strange Creatures..." at Rhino, I had a
very nice conversation with Ray Dennis Steckler (RIP), who was very
friendly until I mentioned MST3K. Then he said some very, very
nasty things for the next several minutes. Fortunately, I learned
the rights were controlled by Media Blasters (which had their rights
from him). It's not really the answer to this question, but I
should add that I've met some really wonderful people in the course
of hunting down rights for MST. Back at Rhino I had several
pleasant conversations with William Grefe, for example. I'd called
to see if he'd be interested in going on camera to discuss "Wild
Rebels." He liked MST and thought what they did was funny. But he
declined the invitation out of consideration for other cast and crew
who might not be as open minded. You have to respect that. Conrad
Brooks was hilarious, and the interview with Bert I. Gordon, his
daughter Susan and Joe Turkel was a lot of fun. Brian Ward
interviewed Joe Estevez for our "Soultaker" release, but I made the
initial contact, and he was extremely friendly. And for our
upcoming set, both Frank Dietz and Jon Mikl Thor were incredibly
gracious and appreciative of what MST did for "Zombie Nightmare."
What are the plans for a Tom Servo Statuette?
It's not a matter of if. It's just a matter of when.
Are there future plans for BlueRay releases?
No plans at this time. If Blu-Ray sales ever eclipse sales of
standard def discs, then we'll look at it more seriously. Otherwise,
those episodes don't exactly benefit from high def picture quality
for obvious reasons.
What episode(s) would you personally like to see released on DVD?
Ah, Puma Man. I've been trying to find the rights holder to that one
for years. It's my Moby Dick. I thought I found the guy once; he
said he had rights, but when I asked him to provide some paperwork,
he stopped returning phone calls. The copyright is held by
Indoamericana Ltd. If any one of you can reach them--or even find
them--you'll have my eternal gratitude (not to mention make your
fellow fans pretty happy).
Why don’t you put proper chapter stops on the DVDs?
With XV and going forward, we're putting chapters at all commercial
breaks and before and after host segments.
Why aren’t there scene selections on the MST3K DVDs from Shout
I'm not a big fan of scene selections. It's a pretty subjective
call where to put them (I know because I did them for the Rhino
releases). But more importantly, it's an additional authoring and
menu design expense, and I'd rather spend the money on an extra.
Can we expect single episode releases on DVD?
While we don't have any plans to release singles in the near future,
that could always change. Sorry for the vague answer, but it's more
of a sales and marketing call.
Any chance Shout Factory can obtain the rights to MST3K-TM and
give it the “special edition” release that fans have asked for?
I was very disappointed that Universal re-released the movie last
year. I really wanted to do it here, full of extras. Putting out a
special edition is certainly worthwhile, and I will pursue it. But
it may be some time until Universal is willing to license it out
since their release is still pretty fresh.
Does Shout! Factory have a complete list of MSTied films and
their public domain status?
We're doing copyright research on everything. But what I've learned
about public domain status is that it's never black and white. Yes,
a film's registration may never have been filed or renewed, but
someone owns it. And if they're litigious, it gets expensive
just to defend ourselves, even if we're right. So we try to be as
cautious as possible in making determinations of public domain
status. We always prefer to license. While it costs money to license
a film, the contract provides protections that make us all sleep
Is there anything that fans can do to help procure rights to
movies that are hard to get rights for?
See above regarding Puma Man. MST3K fans have made so much happen
for the show over its history, so I'm not surprised by the question.
Thank you and good luck.
Any chance of a new misted short or something as an extra on a
boxed set? If a short that’s in public domain is used it shouldn’t
be expensive to do it.
It's a very cool idea and one worth investigating. So many moving
parts make it a logistical (and yes, financial) challenge. The
talent is very busy doing their own stuff and they live in different
cities. But doing a short would be a great extra.
Any way we can get the ep numbers on the case and discs?
That seems like a pretty easy thing to do to make fans happy. I'll
talk to Brian Ward about that for XVI. Thanks.
Will there be any more Film Crew?
We have no plans to produce any more Film Crew. Ultimately, Shout
is in the MST3K business, and that's where our focus is. We
are working closely with Best Brains to market and expand the brand
with our DVD and digital releases, and so far it's been a terrific
partnership. Jim had a really good run at Rhino, but I think he
appreciates how much creative energy and enthusiasm Shout has for
growing the MST3K brand.
How exactly are the episodes chosen for a set? I imagine there’s
at least a little more to it than simple dollars and cents.
The only consistent consideration we make from box to box is trying
to include two Joel shows and two Mike shows. We do this out of
respect for fans who have their favorites. It doesn't always work
out, as with the anniversary box. Sometimes clearing a movie takes
longer than expected, so we resort to a film we've concluded is a
safe bet for PD. So much of what we can do is about what we can
clear, and I can't stress that enough. Movies you think are PD are
not (and just because a lot of companies have released it does not
guarantee it's PD, though it's certainly an encouraging sign).
Movies are at studios, which means tape the deepest shade of red
you'll ever see. Movie rights are traced to a bank in
Germany...which went belly up 20 years ago and the paperwork can't
be found. Movies have changed hands 15 times, with everyone
claiming a piece. Movies are entangled in rights disputes. Rights
holders are simply unwilling to license for the money we can offer
or because they don't like MST (or don't understand it and want
nothing to do with it). Rights holders are in another country and
so everything is done by email, which slows up the process. Rights
belong to estates, which are often hard to find. There are so many
obstacles. So when we do get one, it's the fourth of July over
here. I understand that certain episodes are very popular, and I'm
still trying to get those. But if I've learned nothing else from
reading the MST3K Boards, it's that one person's favorite is another
person's least favorite. Given that and the limited availability of
titles, our aim is simply to put everything out that we can. Doing
themed releases is simply a luxury we can't afford, at least
Is it feasible to add closed captioning to upcoming releases, as
a service to those of us with hearing problems?
Closed captions have often been an unfortunate victim of budget
constraints. They're really expensive to create, and with MST3K,
where you have so much dialogue between the wraps, movies and riffs,
it's even pricier. That said, Shout is working on finding corporate
sponsors who would pay for closed captions on our releases, so we
may have good news to report soon.
The Lippert movies from
Season 2 - Rocketship XM, Jungle Goddess, Lost Continent and King
Dinosaur - what is the holdup on these ?
The problem is that Kit Parker has U.S. rights to those films, but
Warner Bros. has Canadian rights. We need both U.S. and Canadian
rights, because our boxes sell well in Canada, so that means getting
Canadian rights out of Warner Bros. And that, I imagine, would fall
pretty low on their priority list.
As an art nerd, I absolutely love the fact that each film has an
illustration that combine the movie with MST3K. I see a signature
for “S. Vance” on the one for Final Justice, but who are they? And
how do they go about creating the illustration?
Glad you like those. The artist is Steve Vance. We think he's
incredibly talented. He did the art for our Firesign Theater box set
(Box of Danger: The Complete Nick Danger Casebook). We usually send
him a screener of the film in question, and he watches it for
inspiration. Check his website out at
In our very first brainstorming sessions about MST3K releases,
everybody (production, marketing, art) here felt that we needed to
really distinguish our artwork from the Rhino releases (so while we
continued their numbering for the sake of collectors' sanity--many
of us are collectors too--we changed over to Roman numerals). We
wanted to do something in the spirit of the show--that is, poke fun
at the movies while still showing an affection for them. So we
thought, "Well, how about the posters?" Those old B movie posters
are fantastic, and it seemed like a fun and thematically organic
idea to insert Servo and Crow in the imagery, since they've
already inserted themselves in the soundtrack. Fortunately, Jim was
fully on board with the concept, so we were off and running.
Since Shout! has and still does license many other tv shows from
major film and tv studios/conglomerates like Universal and Sony, can
episodes which feature movies whose rights are owned by such major
media conglomerates still be considered to be in play for possible
Absolutely. Our partnerships with the studios have developed
substantially over the last couple of years, and we're just now
beginning to release TV shows licensed from Sony, Fox and MGM. So
going to them for MST titles is a no-brainer. That said, getting a
licensor-- whether studio or independent rights holder--to
understand the rights I'm seeking is not always easy to do,
especially if they're not familiar with the show. I've occasionally
included a link to the YouTube clip of the episode featuring their
movie so that they can see for themselves and understand that the
MST3K version on a $60 box set won't hurt sales of their $14.98
standard release. And even if all goes smoothly, the sheer
bureaucracy involved can means months of waiting for an answer to
our offer. But I certainly hope to make some studio deals over the
Last year's Comic-Con in San Diego was amazing for many reasons, but
chief among them was spending some time with the cast. What an
incredibly friendly and talented group of people. I'm always happy
and relieved to discover that actors and writers whose work I admire
are also nice people in real life.
MST3K is one of the jewels in the Shout Factory catalog, and we know
it. It's really a team effort here. Brian Ward and the folks in
production, marketing, art, sales and, last but in no way least,
legal--they all work very hard on our MST3K DVD's. We think it
shows, and hopefully you agree. I know we can't always please
everyone, but we won't stop trying!
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