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The Munsters - Revealed: The Reasons Behind the Cancellation of the Image 'Supplement' Disc

Posted by David Lambert
8/16/2004
 
A week ago we reported that Image Entertainment had cancelled their release of The Munsters: America's First Family of Fright, a behind-the-scenes look at the series. This DVD had been slated to arrive on August 24th (a week from tomorrow), which was the exact same day that Universal Studios Home Video was releasing The Munsters - The Complete 1st Season.

Last week, we could only speculate about the reasons for the cancellation, with a bit of help from a reader. We passed on that "a reader who only identified himself as 'Mike' told us today that when he e-mailed Image and asked about the disc, he was told that 'Unfortunately Image Entertainment no longer owns the distribution rights to (it)' ."

Among those of you who read that report was Mr. Kevin Burns, who replied directly to TVShowsOnDVD about the situation, explaining the exact nature of the change. Burns is well-known among dedicated fans of Lost In Space, as both the producer of the similar "behind the scenes" Image DVD release Lost In Space Forever, and as the driving force behind a couple of as-yet unsuccessful attempts to revive the show concept: first in 2002 with a never-shot NBC telefilm that was called Lost In Space: The Journey Home, that was shelved when Jonathan Harris ("Dr. Smith") passed away. Then they moved on to the concept of a weekly series called The Robinsons: Lost In Space, which The WB Network had won the right to broadcast after competing with three other networks. John Woo directed, supervised the editing, and Woo's company, Lion Rock Entertainment, was co-Executive Producer. The pilot was produced and shot at the enormous cost of $5.4 million, and before it was entirely finished the series was shelved by The WB after a change in management that resulted in network executive Jordan Levin's departure this past June.

With Lost in Space not working out - at least so far - for Kevin Burns' and Jon Jashni's production company, Synthesis, they are trying once more to revive an Irwin Allen property: they're now working with Fox on a new big-budget version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. Meanwhile, Burns' Prometheus Entertainment has been as busy as ever with behind-the-scenes documentaries, having just finished up the "Empire of Dreams" feature doc - running at 2.5 hours - that will appear as part of this Fall's Star Wars DVD box set. Burns both produced and directed this one.

Now that we've established Kevin Burns' credentials, let's see what he has to say about The Munsters, shall we? He started out by clarifying that this change isn't about any rights or license issues:
    I am the Executive Producer of the four Munsters documentaries that Image was going to release on DVD. The fact is, Image does still have the distribution rights to the disc and all appropriate materials were licensed to us by Universal some time ago when the programs were produced for A&E Biography.

Burns goes on to tell us that Universal contacted both Image and 20th Century Fox (who holds the copyright on the material), and expressed concern about the street date of August 24th. They feared there would be confusion in the marketplace between their Season 1 release and this title, and that consumers wouldn't be sure of what they were buying. As a result, Burns says, "We voluntarily 'pulled' the release so that Universal could put The Munsters" out without fear of confusion, etc."

Burns wraps up his e-mail to us with the explanation that they had simply intended to set a new release date a bit later on, but then Universal had expressed interest in using it as Value-Added Material (extras) with the Season 2 release of The Munsters. Burns and his group thinks it's a great idea, obviously, and they are discussing this with Universal and Image right now.

We don't want to talk much further about it, then, because that tends to jinx the negotiations. But the potential availability of this material is still there, just in a different form. Burns didn't want Munsters fans to feel gypped, when in fact he's working hard to make these documentaries even more available than they would have been.

Our sincere thanks to Kevin Burns for taking the time to write to us and let us know the situation. Stay tuned, and we'll let you know how things turn out. It seems like strong support for the first season release next week will only sharpen Universal's desire to release more, and so that's a big help. Do you have your pre-order in yet? What are you waiting for?


Correction: TVShowsOnDVD misrepresented the history of the Lost In Space revival projects. The wording above has been changed to be more accurate. We regret the error.

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