Director Joe Dante recently forwarded my 12.20 riff about the curious absence of William Cameron Menzies‘ Invaders From Mars (’53) to rights holder Wade Williams. Dante posted Williams’ reply a few hours ago in the comment thread, and Williams has forcefully explained that the rights-squatter allegations are a bad rap or a thin beef, or both.
The basic reveals are that (a) over the last 12 months Williams has had “offers” on Invaders From Mars from Criterion, Kino, Arrow, Twilight Time, Olive and Shout Factory but “none have come through” (whatever that means), and (b) Williams nonetheless believes that “after the first of the year we will either restore [Invaders From Mars] or a new licensee will come forth.”
Williams’ email to Dante: “Invaders From Mars has been available from licensee Image Entertainment for nearly a decade,and before that via Rhino, Englewood Entertainment, Nostalgia Merchants, Starlog Video and the usual pirates.
“Image had access to the negative, separations, trailer and Cinecolor prints. The Image license just expired last January and they had a six-month sell off period. The film has only recently reverted back to me.
“Since last December I have had offers on Mars and other titles from major distributors — Criterion, Kino, Arrow, Twilight Time, Olive and Shout Factory. None came thru. I am not personally set up to manufacture, restore/rescan and distribute DVD’s at this time. I am selling off the leftover ‘overstock’ from Image on Ebay.
“The YouTube/Amazon piracy of uploaders have dampened the desire for classic films on every level worldwide and discourages any worthwhile distributor from investing in new masters for new releases.
“I have attempted for many years to explain why a mint-perfect release on Mars is a problem and I will say it one more time.
(a) No complete negative color seps exist on the original 1953 version of the film. The ending and dream sequence are GONE. It was lost when the UK version was made in 1954. I was 12 at the time!
(b) The assets at the Cinecolor lab were seized by the IRS in the mid 1950’s when the Cinecolor lab went broke. Apparently the original assets [and] stored negs were sold off at auction.
(c) Image sold thousands of copies [over] the last ten years.
(d) Bob Skotak and I have been discussing a restoration of the film for the last year and I am awaiting an estimate from a major lab in Burbank (recommended by Bob Harris) to do a new 4K restoration using all the available elements.
(e) There is a partial camera negative in Los Angeles. I looked into purchasing it several years ago and it was NOT COMPLETE and did not have the end sequences — titles and credits. Totally worthless.
“If you are in business it’s no secret the economy has been in the toilet the last eight years!
“I nonetheless believe after the first of the year we will either restore the film or a new licensee will come forth.
“My library has and is available for licensing! I am NOT hoarding anything.”
— Wade Williams
Thanks to Mr. Dante!