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Corporate Studio Suits: Obstacles to Stop Motion Pioneers ‘Tribute Documentaries’

April 28, 2012

Recently, I found out at the infamous stop motion messageboard that a documentary in the works has hit a possible road-block. The documentary is an HOMAGE to a pioneer in special effects, it’s titled, ‘Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan‘. Apparently, Warner Brothers is demanding large monetary payment to use clips from Ray Harryhausen’s past classics. Something else that gives further clues that documentary is maybe having difficulty. It appears that the teasers for ‘Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan’, are, or have been taken down. Here at SMW News starting about 1-1/2 years ago, we posted on three separate occasions, news stories of the Special Effects Titans trailer. Take a look … Click 1, Click 2, Click 3. When you play the Youtube embedded player, you will see message, REMOVED BY USER. This indicates to me that Warner Brothers may have demanded that the documentary trailers be taken down because of the scenes & clips from Ray Harryhausen movies … not sure but the pieces of puzzle seems to fit.

It is my understanding now that the ‘Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan’ documentary is going to be re-edited without the benefit of example effects & animation scenes created by Ray Harryhausen. Even though the Youtube postings of the Special Effects Titans trailers have been removed, here is one that I found on Vimeo ….

Another lesser known documentary that was going to be made, was a tribute to Willis O’Brien who inspired Ray Harryhausen as a young boy, when he first saw the original King Kong (1933). This O’Brien documentary was also slammed shut around Peter Jackson’s, 2005 King Kong CGI remake. Steven L. Austin was the director/producer of the Willis O’brien documentary. He says that he has plenty of filmed/recorded footage ‘in the can’ but it seems that ‘we the audience’ will never have an opportunity to see a completed version of this documentary. Here is a summary from Steve himself when he posted at the stop motion forum … you can read for yourself … Willis O’Brien, spider pit, documentary, etc This is an example teaser for O’Brien documentary ….

This other teaser is better but has heavy watermarking on the screen … you can watch at Vimeo … The Lost Worlds of Willis O’Brien

What can I say? … fuming pissed and strongly controlling what I’m writing here! With both of the above documentaries, the obstacles are apparently from Warner Brothers. Listen up ‘Suits’ …. Special Effects content movie products are usually the cash cow that brings in your box office sales. Do you not have any respect for the Heritage of Cinema which includes the contributions of individual pioneers such as Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien?? These TRIBUTE documentaries would have NO impact on your current Mega-Multi Hundred Million Dollar products. Warner Brothers where is your ‘drop’ of generosity, charity & altruism? Again, I am censoring myself!

LINKS: IMDbFacebookRay Harryhausen siteWarner Brothers Corp

Topics: Animators, Dynamation, Films - Shorts - Animation, Miniatures - Models - Puppets, Special Effects, Stop Motion | 5 Comments »

5 Responses to “Corporate Studio Suits: Obstacles to Stop Motion Pioneers ‘Tribute Documentaries’”

  1. I wonder if the trailers of the films in question are in the public domain? Although not an ideal solution, a few shots are better than nothing.

  2. U_Ani says:

    Different people have different agendas. I hate to generalize but studios aren’t directly artists in motive. Those who make the system do not love what they sell. It’s about getting money from giving services in a competitive world. If stunts like this are to come to an end the rules of that competitiveness should be changed to allow more true versatility and less generalized solutions for problems between those different people. But it might be impossible. Why? Too many people with different agendas, something made very apparent in the modern internet age.

  3. L.I.O. says:

    The posting (source) at the stop motion messageboard appears reliable :) … quote ….

    “Reply said that due to Warner Brothers wanting quite a bit of cash for the right to use the footage of Ray’s, they are re-cutting the special and hope to release in June.”

    Only Warner Brothers mentioned from the above source. It did not state any specific Ray Harryhausen movies. Someone explain to me why the Youtube postings of the trailers for the Harryhausen documentary were taken down which included scenes/clips from a variety of Ray Harryhausen’s works including ‘Beast from 20,000 Fathoms’ ( & other Ray films).

    The Wiki link below shows what is under the WB library, although a little confusing to me, of who owns what. It appears that Warner Bros is at the top in this libary chain of command: Turner Classic Movies is subsidiary of Warner Bros. TCM owns certain Metro Golden Mayer/United Artist library pre-1986 and rights to majority of RKO Radio Pictures library …


    The other corporate film giant, Sony Pictures, owns Columbia …


    It appears from the source, that the Ray Harryhausen documentary is still going to be released sometime in June … HOWEVER … my observation … the documentary may not be as powerful if some of Ray Harryhausen’s actual scenes are omitted (not shown), then forcing the documentary to only display still photographs of Ray’s classic scenes.

    As always, these are my personal views, observations, & commentary when I post here at SMW News. Maybe I am missing some information about this, or maybe the Harryhausen documentary will still be okay … I do not know. If any new information appears later, I will of course, acknowledge, make corrections, & update. Thanks Warner Brothers. This SUCKS. Perhaps I am over-reacting. For me it is about the PRINCIPLE … Corporate Studio Executives (aka Suits) being nickle & dime cheap, and greedy, which demonstrates disrespect to these two Cinema Pioneers & Trailblazers.

  4. Rick catizone says:

    So, does Wb own the RKO properties? What about Columbia?

    Are we “only” talking about Beast here, or other films as well?


  5. grecodan says:

    As I might have mentioned on that “other” message board, I suspect this is an example of some junior execubot who is trying to make a name for him/her/it self by proving how good he/she/it is at squeezing every last nickel out of Warner Bros’ IP. Most likely this ‘bot had never heard of Harryhausen, had never seen one of his films, and now probably considers both the master and his art as quaint relics of a distant past (i.e. anytime before he/she/it arrived at the studio) and thus of no interest save for a possible blip on the bottom line.


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