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Where the Law and Film Converge

By Dustin Rowles | Trade News | March 1, 2010 | Comments ()


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File this under: Not trade news. There were a few interesting movie-related stories last week that I failed to pick up that warrant mention here.

  • First is a story out of the NYTimes that befits an entry on QuizLaw (which is on indefinite hiatus, sorry to say). A man named Daniel Turkewitz sent his 12-page film script treatment to 10 current and former Supreme Court justices, and surprisingly got a response from our old friend, strict-constructionist Antonin Scalia.

    The treatment was a comedy about Maine seceding from the Union and joining Canada (a not unlikely premise -- up in Northern Maine, it's a frequent topic of discussion). He asked the judges about the law behind such a secession, and Scalia -- a blowhard, but a helluva entertaining one -- suggested that though the question would likely never reach the Supremes, "the answer is clear. If there was any constitutional issue resolved by the Civil War, it is that there is no right to secede."

    Mr. Scalia added in the letter: "I find it difficult to envision who the parties to this lawsuit might be. Is the State suing the United States for a declaratory judgment? But the United States cannot be sued without its consent, and it has not consented to this sort of a suit."

    "I am sure that poetic license can overcome all that," he continued, "but you do not need legal advice for that."

    Turkewitz is still seeking an agent.

  • Elsewhere, out in Italy, the ministry of health confiscated 7,000 pairs of 3D glasses from movie theaters, claiming that the glasses were a hygiene risk because they were not properly cleaned between screenings (wait? They're actually supposed to clean them? I assumed the second-hand face grease was gratis). It also turns out, quite obviously, that 3D movies cause eye strain and headaches.

    You remember the class-action lawsuit at the end of The Jerk? Could we expect the same sort of class action against studios that create 3D movies? Undoubtedly.

  • According to the NYTimes, clearly trying to find something to write about on a slow news day, there's been quite a furor over red-band trailers online, specifically the one for Kick-Ass that features an 11-year-old Hit Girl (played by 13-year-old Chloe Moritz) hurling a series of profanities before shooting a man in the face. That has apparently upset three people that the Times probably spent much of the afternoon trying to track down. Studios, meanwhile, continue to maintain that they're attempting to keep those red-band trailers behind age gates and on age-appropriate websites. Because that's what they have to say.

    Also, how those 12-year-olds manage to dupe those age gates is a mystery to me. They're impenetrable!

  • Oh, and one last note worth mentioning: Late Friday, Gawker uncovered a major ethical faux pas over at the grandfather of trade publications: Variety. It seems that the producers behind a film that no one has ever heard of called Iron Cross inexplicably paid the publication a substantial sum to run an extensive Oscar campaign on their behalf (the movie was Roy Scheider's last before his death, but is of little note otherwise). Variety subsequently ran a review of the movie calling it "hackneyed," "preposterous," "mediocre," "choppy," and "uncertain." Soon thereafter, however, the movie's producers called to complain about the negative review. And of course, Variety didn't want to piss off an advertiser that had paid them $400,000 so they quickly yanked the review.

    This, folks, is why the trades are on the brink of shuttering.

    The full report and one hell of an entertaining email can be found over on Gawker. Also note that, of all the major movie campaigns that have been run on this site, I don't think we've ever given more than one or two of those movies (Zombieland and ... ?) a positive review.



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