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Malcolm X Blu-ray Cancelled

Posted January 19, 2011 11:18 AM by Juan Calonge

Warner Bros.Warner Home Video has informed that the Blu-ray release of the Spike Lee movie Malcolm X (which had been announced for January 25), has been cancelled due to a rights issue regarding the music cues used in the movie. WHV has noted that all parties involved are working to resolve this issue.


Source: Home Media Magazine | Permalink | United States [Country settings]

News comments (88 comments)


LeBougre
 - Jan 19, 2011

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bluskies
 - Jan 19, 2011

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I would rather they take as long as they need to get the music, than to put in artificial tunes that you see on so many TV season releases when they don't want to pay for the music rights again.

Trogdor2010
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Shouldn't the music be part of the master?

lildon24
 - Jan 19, 2011

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repete66211
 - Jan 19, 2011

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What a pity. Malcolm X is IMO Spike Lee's best movie. And though he's solid in just about everything he does, this role was practically made for Denzel Washington.

GuyOfOwnage
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Damn, I was really looking forward to this too.

mywhitenoise
 - Jan 19, 2011

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"This is some bullsh**, Who cares about music, we want the freakin movie! Companies are stubborn these days. "

Why the hell would you want an altered version of the film? I take it you're one of the people who's fine with the Special Editions of Star Wars?

I just want to know how studios get away with waiting one week before release to announce a cancellation.

PowellPressburger
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Sounds more like a delay to me.

GuyOfOwnage
 - Jan 19, 2011

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"I just want to know how studios get away with waiting one week before release to announce a cancellation."

I was wondering the same thing. Don't some retailers usually have these a week or two before the street date?

the.deni
 - Jan 19, 2011

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music is a big part of this movie.... it's too bad it's being delayed but as long as the music is intact i'm still looking forward to its release.

Russell22
 - Jan 19, 2011

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I though the star wars special editions were pretty cool !

Phoenix Theory
 - Jan 19, 2011

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damn really was looking forward to this movie to me its also a good thing saves me money FOR NOW lol

JHas
 - Jan 19, 2011

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When I read the word cancelled, I was suprised to see it was not one of Sony's.

ibeetle
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@lildon24 Some of the most famous movies ever made are famous for their use of music. And many film soundtracks have gone on to be as influential as the films they are apart of.

Can you possibility imagine 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Jaws, The Exorcist, The Magnificent Seven, Psycho, or MASH without any (or different) music.

BillieCassin
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@GuyOfOwnage - It sounds like basically one of the rights holders noticed it was coming out, called to complain, and they had to pull it at the last minute. It happens.

What is strange is that this should not happen for movies. The reason it happens for TV shows on home media is because when they wanted to use a song in a TV show in the past, they only paid for broadcast rights. Those rights did not cover home media.

However, this should not be an issue for a film soundtrack, which is contracted in an entirely different way, especially for a modern title like this. The only way I can see it happening is if there is a new rights holder and perhaps the person who granted the original license somehow later lost them or somehow the initial permissions were invalidated.

It does sound like a delay, though - those discs are already in warehouses, they will pay whatever it takes. It's likely there is only one song holding it up and once it's resolved a release will come immediately after.

DJ IXS
 - Jan 19, 2011

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music is a BIG part of ANY movie...

TheManInBlu
 - Jan 19, 2011

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How does something like that even happen? It happened with Heavy Metal (the movie) back in the day when rights to songs were lost but I've never heard of it happening to a major film from a big studio like WB. Shouldn't they anticipate something like this and get the proper contracts signed while they are making the movie and releasing it so nothing like this happens in the future? If this were a movie from the 60s or 70s, I could understand but this is a movie from the 1990s at a time when studios knew better and the video format was well established. What other movies will fall prey to rights issues next??

halimali
 - Jan 19, 2011

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what a sad news. really wanted this one on blu

moviebuffed
 - Jan 19, 2011

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If this digibook is waiting in some warehouse and the studio is waiting to clear up (or compensate) for the use of the song I do wonder if it'll raise the price of the film when it is available to purchase.

clownface
 - Jan 19, 2011

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WOW, I am really disappointed by this. I was happy that Malcolm X and The Color Purple were being given the book treatment they deserved, I hope this gets resolved soon.

nycomet
 - Jan 19, 2011

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This sucks more than my Roomba.

Whoever is in charge of this project should be demoted.

What a way to usher in Black History Month.

Shame on you WHV.

Robert Franklin
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Me too! Between Malcolm X and Mo' Better Blues, these are truly Spike Lee's best films! Now, to get Universal to release Mo' Better Blues! MAN!! That would be something!

Exist2Inspire
 - Jan 19, 2011

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They say that it has been cancelled, but does anything think we may get something similar to the Sony release of Robocop? I mean, the 25th is next week, so I would imagine that the stores would have their stock by now.

I knew when I worked in retail, 90% of the time the distributors sent the stuff out early but with a "Do Not Sell Until xx/xx/xxxx" sticker on it.

alphadec
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Post Prod
 - Jan 19, 2011

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how is the news in any way fantastic?

yellariel
 - Jan 19, 2011

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It is part of the master but the the music, dialogue, sounds, are all separate just like studio album recording, the drums, guitar, vocals, etc., are all played individually this is why albums sound better than concert performances, and plus this way for future references they can crop individual sounds without cropping the whole thing.

Wdm81
 - Jan 19, 2011

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OsminBet
 - Jan 19, 2011

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This is terrible. I sold my DVD copy three weeks ago in preparation for the blu-ray!!!!!! =(

yellariel
 - Jan 19, 2011

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If you ask for my opinion I'm really skeptic that the original movie will makes its way into BLURAY like we had hoped simply because the owner of these music rights wants more royalties from the publicist in charge of this BLURAY release, the publicist wont negotiate at any means unless he personally wanted to get the movie in its original state.

Banned User
 - Jan 19, 2011

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So basically the studio's are arguing over money. Nice..

DanaCameron7320
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@ibeetle (and anyone else interested): Check out Alex North's 2001. Alex North (best known for his score for SPARTACUS, 1960) was actually commissioned by Kubrick to compose a score for 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, which he did. In the end, Kubrick went with his "temp track" musical selections. North's 2001 cues actually fit the edited sequences of the finished film. I have the version conducted by Jerry Goldsmith and performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra, but there's apparently another CD featuring music "judiciously assembled from [the] sole surviving mono mixdown safety master made by engineer Eric Tomlinson for [the] composer during recording sessions." I haven't heard those cues (check out that price!). If you have the means, it's very interesting, and quite a different experience, to watch the sequences with North's score played over them. And even though it wasn't used in the film at all, North composed some wonderful music for 2001, and it's worth a listen.

Alex North's 2001 (conducted by Jerry Goldsmith):
http://www.amazon.com/Alex-Norths-2001-Various-Artists/dp/B0000014T6/ref=sr_1_1?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1295461050&sr=1-1

Alex North's 2001 (original mono downmix):
http://www.amazon.com/2001-SPACE-ODYSSEY-Original-Score/dp/B001UIAL82/ref=sr_1_2?s=music&ie=UTF8&qid=1295460809&sr=1-2

ON TOPIC: I agree that MALCOLM X is Spike's best Joint, its music being a huge part of the experience. Hope they resolve the music licensing issues quickly and get this BD out, unaltered, soon.

Mr. Cinema
 - Jan 19, 2011

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So shouldn't all DVD copies of this film be pulled from shelves?

bboisvert
 - Jan 19, 2011

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The only way this could happen AFAIK is if the contracts for distribution and music rights very specifically mentioned stuff like DVD, TV syndication, etc... but didn't leave the wording vague enough to include additional future formats (BD, streaming, etc.)

I don't understand how such a thing would be possible in this day and age (especially given the 'music rights' issues with other properties that studios have been well aware of for a couple of decades now)...


Oh well, I'm sure it'll get resolved soon. Anyone have a list of what songs are used in the movie? That may give some insight.

thebluemax
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Very sad, my favorite Spike Lee film and a superb movie. I was really looking forward to "Malcolm X" hope the music issue is resolved very soon.

DJ IXS
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@Mr. Cinema...NEW Format= NEW RULES= NEW money

DJ IXS
 - Jan 19, 2011

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stores SHOULD have them by now...maybe not hundreds of copies, but def at least a handful...hopefully for the people who want to buy this the retailers won't read the "DO NOT SELL" e-mail

Uncontrol
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Happy MLK day

alphadec
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Rayansb
 - Jan 19, 2011

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This is a shame.

G:Box
 - Jan 19, 2011

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They should release it on HD-DVD/laserdisc combo pack. Circuit City exclusive.

Or I can just wait and rent it at hollywood video.

repete66211
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@rjmacnc: Wdm81's comment was comedy. *I* thought it was funny.

fettastic
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Malcolm X needs to come out on Blu-ray BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!

Post Prod
 - Jan 19, 2011

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-----"alphadec: This is great news because Blu-ray needs quality movies not more political movies about a man who was a "black hitler".

Hope this film never will be released."-----

Oh, so you're a moron who thinks that the only art and film that should be available is the stuff that you like and/or align with spiritually/politically. You want to limit the availably of movies oyu disagree with and have the audacity to call someone else "hitler" in the same sentence? Is that trolling 101 or are you really this oblivious?

Post Prod
 - Jan 19, 2011

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fett: "Malcolm X needs to come out on Blu-ray BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY!"


ahahaha. kudos.

furious-styles
 - Jan 19, 2011

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If I had to wager a guess, I'd say the hold up might involve Arrested Development's "Revolution", since it was, I believe, the only original song composed for the film, which means its rights would likely have been negotiated differently than the rest of the songs in the film, which were all old jazz songs and standards. Another possibility could be Terence Blanchard's score. To my understanding, music that is composed specifically for a film can fall under a couple of different rights categories, which could be affected by future releases on new formats. All of the other old blues and jazz songs used in the film are pretty standard movie fare, and likely wouldn't involve a last minute, unexpected rights issue like this, aside from maybe two or three songs which are a bit obscure and could have had their copyrights unknowingly change hands. All of this is just speculation though. Rights issues and clearances can be complicated, messy issues. Hopefully they get it all sorted out soon. With the discs surely already manufactured and ready for sale, I can't imagine Warner not getting this problem resolved as quickly as possible. I think we'll see a new release date very soon.

Gabriel00
 - Jan 19, 2011

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alphadec: You're an idiot. To compare someone to Hitler, who committed none of the atrocities that madman did is beyond disgusting. You don't want to own Malcolm X? Fine. Don't buy it. It's as simple as that. Everyone else has a right to.

As far as the Blu Ray goes...it's a shame it isn't coming out right away and hopefully the matter will be resolved.

Blue4u
 - Jan 19, 2011

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LOL @ Post Prod. I was going to post just that but you've beaten me to it...

Returning to Spike Lee on Blu-Ray, how aboth the 25th hour? A personal favourite of mine with an amazing work by DP Rodrigo Pietro that should look great on BD

slimdude
 - Jan 19, 2011

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I bet this is the same reason why Heavy Metal was cancelled from Sony Pictures, due to difficulties of obtaining the music copyrights of the soundtrack for the Blu-ray release. Previous home video formats (Lasedisc, VHS, and DVD) experienced exact dilemmas with the soundtrack as well prior to their initial releases after settlements, which didn't include future video media as for Blu-ray. Each new home video developments, requires legal re-negotiations for copyright licensing.

phildearly
 - Jan 19, 2011

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If you don't mind paying $33.00, there's a few copies on ebay right now. Tempting, but I think Warners will settle this pretty quickly.

G:Box
 - Jan 19, 2011

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DO NOT BUY THE ONES ON EBAY THEY ARE PREORDERS!!!!

Robert Siegel
 - Jan 19, 2011

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The discs are most certainly pressed and packaged, so we must assume that Warner will do what it needs to to release them, having excess inventory like that is not in their favor.

atexp80
 - Jan 19, 2011

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It's probably the same sort of situation that happened with "300" (http://www.300ondvd.com/300.html) where the score had sections or elements plagiarised from another source. In the case of "300" it was Elliot Goldenthal's "Titus" score. Perhaps someone is making a claim that Terence Blanchard plagiarised music from another composer. If so it'll take a little bit to resolve, Warner Bros will probably pay some money and then the release will end up with a sticker on the front with a website link where the situation is explained. That's what happened for "300".

Hopefully any issues are resolved quickly.

lildon24
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Minimejer05
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Interesting to see that this wasn't cancelled until this close to release date.

EvolutionCherry
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Oh phuck, this is becoming vaperware. :-\

J. Severe
 - Jan 19, 2011

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I just couldn't help say this, I'm sorry... Isn't Malcolm X a guy who fought for civil rights? So isn't cancelling a movie about him on Blu-ray a bit racist?

TTaco05
 - Jan 19, 2011

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I'm tired of spike lee. Hasn't made a good movie in a long time.

wallendo
 - Jan 19, 2011

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Could this be the problem:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Change_Is_Gonna_Come_(song)

"Despite its acclaim, legal troubles have haunted the single since its release. A dispute between Cooke's music publisher, ABKCO, and record company, RCA Records, made the recording unavailable for much of the four decades since its release. Though the song was featured prominently in the 1992 film Malcolm X, it could not be included in the film's soundtrack. By 2003, however, the disputes had been settled in time for the song to be included on the remastered version of Ain't That Good News, as well as the Cooke anthology Portrait of a Legend."

furious-styles
 - Jan 19, 2011

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@wallendo

Wow, yeah that could very well be the problem. That song was missing from Sam Cooke compilations for many years. One of the greatest songs ever recorded, from one of the greatest singers who ever lived. Its use in the film is absolutely, undeniably essential.

ZoetMB
 - Jan 19, 2011

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To all those who wonder how this can happen, I consult for a company that develops rights management software (and we have competitors) and I can tell you that it happens every day.

What can happen is that either the original contract didn't account for home video at all or it may have explicitly stated DVD. Some lawyer gets wise and claims that DVD doesn't include Blu-ray. Or it could be that the license for the music tracks were not purchased in perpetuity. That happens also. (These are called underlying rights.)

Or, as I see wallendo just posted, it's a dispute between the record label and the music publisher. When you license a track, there are two rights: there's the publishing rights, in which the writers get paid via their publishing company and there's the sync rights, which you get from the label. If you don't get both rights, you don't get the track. When a producer can only get the publishing rights, they have to have another band re-record the track, usually emulating the original arrangement and mix as closely as possible.

As for TV shows in which the music was changed for home video release (like "WKRP In Cincinnati" and Michael Mann's "Crime Story"), it's not that the producers don't want to pay again for the music rights, it's that the cost for the music rights for hit songs has skyrocketed. Sometimes, a track that cost them $200 30 years ago could cost them $250,000 today. Thirty years ago, labels used to frequently give away their tracks for use in movies because it drove record sales. Now, licensing for movies and TV is a very big business.

The non-original music in Crime Story was chosen by musician Al Kooper (Blues Project; Blood, Sweat & Tears, Dylan session musician, Lynrd Skynrd producer), who was phenomenal at picking the best tracks. It's too bad they're gone.

When VHS first came out there were tons of lawsuits. There was always some sax player who played on some soundtrack who sued because he felt he wasn't compensated for home video use.

bluDOMray
 - Jan 19, 2011

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ah man. that was my next buy. i guess i'll just have to wait it out another week for almost famous.

ChadFL
 - Jan 19, 2011

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And they announce this right around MLK day?

slimdude
 - Jan 19, 2011

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ZoetMB,

According to your post, it fully explains why the movie: Looking For Mr Goodbar was never released on DVD, a soundtrack which featured numerous pre- recorded disco songs in the late 1970 era from various major artists. Some of those copyrighted materials, may no longer be available, which completely hindered the DVD release.

bboisvert
 - Jan 19, 2011

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lildon24 - I dare you to make less sense.

Spidey Blu
 - Jan 20, 2011

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"Why the hell would you want an altered version of the film? I take it you're one of the people who's fine with the Special Editions of Star Wars?"

I'm completely fine with the Special Editions of Star Wars. You don't like that, sue me. haha.

cbono
 - Jan 20, 2011

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Someone on here wrote...

"This is great news because Blu-ray needs quality movies not more political movies about a man who was a "black hitler". Hope this film never will be released. "

I hope they have seen the film.

I didn't really know much about Malcolm X before I saw the film, but Spike Lee's film tells the story of a man's discovery of his world and a personal transformation. It's a powerful story I've benefited from viewing and viewing again. And now I feel like I know something about Malcolm X and my world.

X400
 - Jan 20, 2011

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ive been aching, aching for this movie on blu

i can't believe this! i h8 how movies get tied up in red tape


I wish they could agree to release the movie and argue about fees later because ultimately this is what it always comes down to "what's our cut?" how bout we sell the film and find/figure it out?

Tom Servo
 - Jan 20, 2011

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@ Uncontrol & ChadFL
What's the connection? MLK had nothing in common with this guy besides skin color.

@ Post Prod
I also don't like propaganda pieces that falsely portray or glorify historical figures for political purposes.
That guy's comparison to hitler was over the top, but he was a murderer and racial supremecist true enough.
I'm guessing you're also a fan of "Che"?

Danielle Ni Dhighe
 - Jan 20, 2011

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@Tom: Who did Malcolm murder? And his views on a lot of things evolved, race included.

"In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks."

X400
 - Jan 20, 2011

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@Tom Servo MLK and X were 2 sides of a coin really they both fought for the same thing in different ways but if it wasn't for Xs side of the Coin MLK wouldn't have been heard. No one listens to the reasonable unless there's the threat/appearance of the unreasonable. X ultimately moved to the same side of the coin as MLK but unfortunately we know what happened with that.

Post Prod
 - Jan 20, 2011

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@Tom: Your views on Malcom X the figure are just that, your views. and if you think there is ANY film based on historical figures NOT filled with some variety of propaganda, I have some Enron stock to sell you. To single this film out says more about your own political slantings than it does Spike Lee's.

I said nothing about my views of Malcom X the man or the film. So get a grasp on that before you attempt to marginalize me with comments like "you're also a fan of Che".

Frankly this is not the place to debate politics or historical figures, there are countless other forums for that purpose. This is a blu-ray forum, for fans of blu-ray. and unless you're a fan of living under fascist regime, you have to be on the side of wanting all movies available to the consumer, not just the ones who have propaganda you like/agree with. Granted I did not notice you saying it shouldn't come out. But my responses were to those celebrating the fact that it might not come out.

So yeah, if you hate the movie, hate Spike Lee and/or hate Malcom X, fine. But what also is fine is that not everyone here agrees with you, and they should be allowed to have whatever movies they want to have on blu-ray. Repeat after me "It's only a movie, it's only a movie".

repete66211
 - Jan 20, 2011

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I'm not going to defend Tom because I disagree with what he says, but there's an element of truth in it. Malcolm X was a racist who advocated violence, but he should get credit for changing his tune. It's interesting that a religious pilgramage is what it took. (Richard Pryor had a similar epiphany on a trip to Africa.) What I dislike about the movie is how Lee dodges the issue of who killed Malcolm X and why. The Nation of Islam seems to be on the same level as Scientology where people are afraid to say what's what.

CandyStalker
 - Jan 20, 2011

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Yeah, those music rights issues have screwed up countless home video releases. I'm still stinging from the omissions in the SCTV collection.

But THIS movie? I couldn't care less.

karavarus
 - Jan 20, 2011

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I've never seen it, but was really looking forward to it. I guess I've waited this long, so I'll wait a little longer. NOW, if they did this to Almost Famous, I'd probably cut someone.

NorCo_1806
 - Jan 20, 2011

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Dang it!! Amazon doesn't seem to know yet....my pre-order is still in place.

I was really looking forward to this....in it's digibook glory too! Can't believe we're just getting this news now.

IAmNotReallyHere
 - Jan 20, 2011

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I hope the rights issues work out. I'm really looking forward to seeing this on Blu, as it is one of the best of the 90s hands-down. One of the few movies from that time period that approaches the sweep and grandeur of a David Lean epic. Regardless of how you feel about the subject (I, for one, find him absolutely fascinating), the movie itself is worth celebrating.

Inserting stir-the-pot comment here:
Now when is Birth of a Nation going to be on Blu?

(historically significant movies are sometimes the ones that are the most polarizing, and the ones most worth preserving)

TheBigBang
 - Jan 20, 2011

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Ugh, this is extremely disappointing, as I was really looking forward to getting this. I have no doubt that eventually the issue will be worked out. But, damn, the waiting....

SKIPC03
 - Jan 20, 2011

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@ ALPHADICK... HOW IN THE HELL CAN U COMPARE BROTHER MINISTER MALCOLM X TO LIKES OF SOMEONE AS "HITLER"!!?? DID MALCOLM EVER KILL A PEOPLE DUE TO THEIR RACIAL MAKE UP ..NO!!,..DID HE TRY TO TAKE OVER AND EXTINGUISH A GROUP OF PEOPLE BECAUSE OF THEIR RACE, COLOR OR CREED..NO!!...THE ONLY THING HE DID WAS TO ENLIGHTEN THE BLACK PEOPLE OF THAT DAY TO THE EXSISTANCE OF INDIVIDUALS SUCH AS YOURSELF ..AND HOW THEY ARE NOTHING MORE THAN AN IGNORANT SLOW KILLING CANCER TO THE ADVANCEMENT OF ALL PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY....YOU MORON !!!

xSCARFACEx
 - Jan 20, 2011

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I thought qhwn that happens they just put a generica soundtrack instead.

bboisvert
 - Jan 20, 2011

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"I thought qhwn that happens they just put a generica soundtrack instead."

Depends on the studio/situation. A good handful of TV shows have done that, sometimes with pretty terrible results (WKRP, Quantum Leap, theme song from Married w/Children)

It happens less often in movies.


And, sometimes, a studio or someone who cares will tough it out and get all the music rights wrapped up. (See: Freeks & Geeks, Heavy Metal, etc.)

VoodooSamurai
 - Jan 20, 2011

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i dont want just malcolm x i want all spike lee flicks on blu, they are way too slow to bring titles out

EvolutionCherry
 - Jan 23, 2011

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What the hell, WHV!

Mr. Joshua
 - Jan 23, 2011

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Who cares????

Blu-violet
 - Jan 23, 2011

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who cares? Simply put Mr. "X" wasn't a good man. MLK, on the other hand, was.

Lincoln6Echo
 - Jan 24, 2011

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Does anybody see the irony in this? A WB title having music rights issues? Warner Brothers, or Warner Music Group is the same company that puts up such a stink with their music rights on YouTube. So, I kind of see this as WB getting a taste of their own medicine, and a bit of reeping what they sew.

ryanDBM
 - Jan 25, 2011

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@Mr. Joshua: apparently you are!
because if you really don't care, you won't even bother posting up a comment for this news or even reading this news.
it's funny how some people are just that dumb.

Sopranogl
 - Feb 12, 2011

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NONSENSE! I saw a COPY at F.Y.E.! No joke! I almost bought it -- but it was 40 bucks!

Sopranogl
 - Feb 15, 2011

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Okay! I BOUGHT IT. I OWN IT! No joke -- I bought the copy I saw at F.Y.E. and IT LOOKS and SOUNDS GREAT!


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