Warner Bros. Makes a Licensing Deal For The ‘Batman’ TV Show, Brings Us One Step Closer to DVDs
This week has been a rollercoaster of emotions here at ComicsAlliance, but now we have a piece of news that makes it seem like everything’s going to be okay: After years of legal battles, Warner Bros. and Fox have struck a licensing deal for the classic 1966 Batman TV show. As reported by Variety, the deal was motivated by a desire to get something that’s “an easier sell for retailers than the darker, more serious and gritty tone of Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy.”
The important thing, though, is that this might end up being the first step in finally getting Batman released to DVD.It seems downright unbelievable that we’ve been through two completely different eras of hugely successful Batman movies without getting the classic series released on any kind of home video, but a legal dispute between Fox (which produced the show) and Warner Bros. (which owns the characters) has resulted in exactly that. As a result, despite the show’s enduring appeal and impact on pop culture — try to find a mass media story about comics that doesn’t drop “Biff! Pow!” into the headline — there’s actually very little new merchandise floating around for Batman ’66.
Part of the trouble is that the rights to the show are an absolute nightmare to sort out. The sheer amount of guest stars and cameos over the course of three seasons causes a legal headache, as does the fact that there’s a separate set of rights for the design of the classic Batmobile — which is why it’s one of the few things you can find a licensed product of. Throw in disputes between the production companies, the involvement of ABC, the clearances for music and a bunch of contracts that were signed twenty years before home video was even a concern for Hollywood, and you’ve got a pretty thorny situation.
At this point, the deal only seems to indicate that we’ll be getting stuff like a t-shirt featuring Cesar Romero’s mustachioed mug, so it’s unlikely that we’ll be seeing a Batman ’66 box set in the immediate future. If the licensing proves to be profitable, however, it might just clear things up for a full-on DVD release, if only to cut into the profits bootleg dealers have been raking in at conventions. A legitimate release (especially one that involved more crisp versions than the bootlegs recorded from TV) has been anticipated for years, to the point where it’s been rumored that Adam West and Burt Ward have already recorded commentary tracks for the episodes in anticipation of everything being settled. West even recorded his own video commentary for the series in his basement and released it as Adam West Naked.
So here’s hoping it all works out. If nothing else, the world needs Surf Jams Joker.
Now more than ever.