No Batman DVD – The Detailed Story
For years fans have wanted a complete collection of the 1960s Batman TV series on DVD. Although you can find bootleg sets out there — just search “Batman TV DVD” on Google, and you’ll see plenty for $50-60 — many would willingly pay well for clean copies with nice extras, and the principals are clearly available to participate.
Reportedly, the rights are tied up between Fox (which made the show and owns the episodes) and Warner Bros (which owns the characters through its subsidiary DC Comics). This week, Rich Johnston published a rumor that that dispute may become part of the lawsuit over the Watchmen movie (in which Fox has sued Warners claiming that they can prevent the film’s release because they still have rights to adapt the comic into a movie).
Now, the nice folks at TVShowsonDVD have written a lengthy piece (no longer available) explaining why there’s a lot more to the situation than Rich mentioned. As they say (rather excitedly),
… everybody will have to remember that DC Comics is only ONE of the rights-related hurdles that Fox needs to leap over! Fox has to work their way out of a very large “rights hell” situation that not only involves DC… but many others, too! In fact, the sheer scope, depth, and breadth of all the rights-holders who have to be brought into various agreements to get this program released on DVD can be absolutely frightening!
The number of cameos and guest stars (some of whom were playing characters from other productions, such as Werner Klemperer appearing not as himself but as Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes) is a complicating factor. That’s also what would make the show so much fun to rewatch, especially with a trivia subtitle track. They go on to point out that the show was a Greenways Production, the company also behind the Green Hornet TV show, which also is mired in complicated rights issues.