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John Carter Sequel: Fan calls on Disney legal counsel to make a determination the fan letters calling for a sequel are not “unsolicited creative ideas”

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The John Carter fans writing thousands of letters to Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and Disney Corp Chairman Robert Iger over the last four months have yet to receive a substantive reply from either Horn or Iger.   What has been received, according to Jan Austin of the Facebook  Back to Barsoom John Carter Sequel Group, are form letters from Yvonne Kubicek, Paralegal Manager, Office of the General Counsel, stating that the fan letters constitute an “unsolicited creative idea” that, per longstanding policy, Disney cannot “accept or review for consideration”.    The Disney response goes on:  “our company’s long-established policy does not allow us to accept for review or consideration ideas, suggestions, or creative materials not specifically solicited by us or our subsidiaries.  our intention is to avoid misunderstandings when projects are created internally which might be similar to submissions from outside the company.”

In response, Austin has written:  “I’m writing to urge you to speak to your supervisors, and with their help, reach a conclusion that when a fan writes in urging Disney to make the sequel to ‘John Carter’…..that fan is NOT submitting IP (Intellectual Property) that requires a form letter response.”  The letter goes on to state: “Under the terms of Disney’s agreement with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc, you have acquired the rights to the first three books and have the right to produce a sequel.  I (we) am (are) urging you to exercise those rights which you own and make the sequel.”

Austin goes on to list all the activities that the fans have undertaken in support of Disney’s John Carter, and assures Disney of the intention of the group to support Disney and the film going forward.

The idea that a fan suggesting that Disney deliver on the sequel that it already owns the rights to is somehow unsolicited IP is , well, interesting.  Based on public statements by Disney executives, the three properties were acquired with the intention of making sequels and creating a franchise, so it seems a bit of a stretch to classify fan exhortations as unsolicited “creative ideas”.

This came up once previously and a Disney employee explained that all employees from the parking lot attendants to Robert Iger are a) trained to reject any unsolicited “creative idea”, and b) that it is Disney’s policy to respond to every letter it receives.  Thus far there have been many thousands of letters and, according to the Facebook Group, just two responses.  It would be interesting and probably help its relations with fans if Disney could at least come up with a form letter that makes sense, along the lines of:

“Dear _____, we appreciate your support for John Carter and your desire for a sequel.  Please be assured that fans like yourself are heard when you reach out to us, and your strong interest in John Carter is fully understood.  While we cannot offer any assurances at this time regarding a sequel, we do want you to know that your letter has been received and noted.”

I mean … how hard can it be?  It’s obvious that asking Disney to make a film of a property it owns is not unsolicited IP.

Now that the Facebook group has someone — in this case Yvonne Kubicek — to correspond with, it will be interesting to see where this leads.

 

15 comments

  • Anyway why won’t Disney let go of the IP rights early? Aren’t they worth some $$ to someone else to get them early? Or would this 3rd party just wait it out and work directly with ERB Inc.

    If they really are sure they’ll never do a sequel — the “right thing to do” would be to release the rights back. But they won’t because they’re too dickish to do that. Still, it would be interesting because if Disney just officially said “no sequel” period, it would at least free up ERB Inc to be in discussions and be promoting it to someone else.

  • Is there any example of a company giving back the licence to its owner before it expires? Narnia was a special case, since it was Walden Media which had the rights and not Disney.

  • MCR writes
    “Also a director’s cut would be only worth it if Stanton actually apologized for bungling it the first time and actually removed certain things. Sorry couldn’t resist”
    You sure are tenacious, like a pit bull, you won’t let go. But this was funny!

    Anyway why won’t Disney let go of the IP rights early? Aren’t they worth some $$ to someone else to get them early? Or would this 3rd party just wait it out and work directly with ERB Inc.

  • I think thats’ part of the issue. Disney on one level knows they will never make a sequel. But do you think they would release the IP back to ERB Inc? No. So on the one hand they won’t give a yes, and on the other hand they will tie up the property. I would be completely happy with a “no sequel, here is the property back.”

  • MCR, if the fans were to get definite word from an authoritative source at Disney that a sequel is never going to happen, I think then we would see a whole lot more enthusiasm start to gather around the idea of a reboot. But that moment just hasn’t arrived yet. I’m hoping that if the Disney folks already know that they will never make a sequel, that they’ll have the courtesy to clarify that as soon as possible to the thousands of fans who are waiting daily for word on the fate of the franchise.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “The question is — why should fans not respond and try to get some kind of actual answer, especially when they now have a point of contact to correspond with? My guess is the best possible outcome is a new type of form letter that at least addresses their concern rather than pivoting off into ridiculousness.”

    I’m not saying they shouldn’t but I just don’t see it accomplishing anything at this point. What sore of actual answer can Disney give? “Thank you for your interest but since we posted a 200 million dollar loss on John Carter we will not be making a sequel.” That’s probably the only real answer I think anyone would receive from them. I understand that the fans of this film want a sequel but at this point the only thing that can happen is that ERB Inc recovers the film rights and take it elsewhere and even then it will probably be a reboot not a sequel, which isn’t a bad thing to consider.

  • Well, who are the paying customers here, anyway? Unsolicited IP – that is pretty silly. No wonder they botched the film’s name and marketing.

    Good attempt on Jan’s part.

  • Steve Davidson, it’s my work address so not too worried. But I think Michael has taken it off.

  • MCR wrote

    As for the rest of this, why is this not a surprise to anyone? Disney has done nothing to win over fans or embrace them so why should they start now?

    I think ya double negatived yourself on that one. “why is this not a surprise to anyone?” I think ya meant “why is this a surprise to anyone?”

    And the answer is — it’s not.

    The question is — why should fans not respond and try to get some kind of actual answer, especially when they now have a point of contact to correspond with? My guess is the best possible outcome is a new type of form letter that at least addresses their concern rather than pivoting off into ridiculousness.

  • Brad Blake wrote:
    “Funny thing about all this is that WE know Disney is sitting on a global financial goldmine with the John Carter property, and even the first movie has now cracked $400M, in spite of possibly the worst marketing campaign in movie history. ”

    OK maybe I’m missing something or confused (which according to some is nothing new) but when did John Carter crack 400 million? Currently Box Office Mojo has listed that the worldwide gross of JC is at-rounded off-283 million. So did Disney sell a 117 million in Blu-Rays and DVDs? Also let’s not forget the film’s production budget was 250 million and the marketing costs have been suggested nearing a 100 million that still doesn’t mean Disney has a gold mine if my math is right since doesn’t a film have to at least make double its cost to be considered a hit?

    Just asking?

    Also a director’s cut would be only worth it if Stanton actually apologized for bungling it the first time and actually removed certain things. Sorry couldn’t resist 😉

    As for the rest of this, why is this not a surprise to anyone? Disney has done nothing to win over fans or embrace them so why should they start now?

  • I redacted it. I think it’s the official address (an office) that they use for the group so I don’t believe its sensitive, but better safe than sorry. Thanks.

  • Funny thing about all this is that WE know Disney is sitting on a global financial goldmine with the John Carter property, and even the first movie has now cracked $400M, in spite of possibly the worst marketing campaign in movie history. A re-released director’s cut, and two sequels would bring in a cool BILLION DOLLARS to Disney, but first they must acknowledge the fact that their are millions of fans around the world who’d LOVE to pay their hard earned moola-woola to see these movies, to buy the DVDs of these movies, and all Disney needs to do is let the team do their job and make them happen. So these letters are merely our wake up call to Disney!

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