A long while back an acquaintance gave me a VHS tape (giving you an idea of precisely how long back we’re talking) of a movie called Terminal Impact. It was being rotated out of the selection at the movie rental place that he worked. The movie was pretty lame. It was about “college students” (that looked 40) being turned into deadly cyborgs. Not coincidentally, there was a blockbuster film called Terminal Velocity starring Charlie Sheen that came out at the same time. They had a similar name and the font of the title was similar, but that’s where the similarities ended. It was pretty clear that the entire purpose of the movie’s title was to get rentals from people who were confused. (Indeed, the movie was created with another title and they changed it to match.)

Erik Kain wrote about a resurgence of “mockbusters” a while ago. I was talking to a friend who was saying that somebody should do something about this.

I really, really hope that nobody does. I hope that, if Disney and others start flinging lawsuits, that they lose them. Terminal Impact may have been a waste of 90 minutes of my life, and would have been a waste of a couple dollars if I had actually paid for it, but the last thing I want is for courts to have to have to wade through distinctions of impact of a terminal nature versus velocity of a terminal nature. My concern is that it opens the doors to the entertainment variant of software patents.

It wouldn’t bother me if Hollywood Pictures (the makers of Terminal Velocity) forced Nu Image Films (the makers of Terminal Impact) to go with the movie’s original title (Cyborg Cop III). However, two movies with redhead leads with the movie “Brave” in the title strikes me as more problematic. What if it’s a girl with brown hair? What if it’s a year later? Three years later? The opportunities for trademark trolling seem evident, to me. And it would almost certainly apply in only a single direction where Pixar can determine a small studio’s packaging while a small studio would have a much harder time doing the opposite.

So, in the end, we are responsible for knowing precisely which movie it is that we want to see. If somebody is taking advantage of our failure to do so, I can live with that.


Category: Theater

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