How the 1960s Batman TV Show Escaped Legal Limbo

How “Batman” Got to Home Video

I realize that the Venn diagram of readers and fans of the Adam West-starring 1966-68 television show “Batman” probably entails a pretty small overlap, but I thought this Wired article about how that show was finally untangled from the legal mess of conflicting rights holders might be of some interest anyway. The show sat in limbo for decades despite consistent fan interest in a home video release; one studio, Warners, owned the characters while another studio, Fox, owned the episodes themselves. And that’s just the simplest overview; in reality, the resolution involved a manufacturer of unsanctioned model kits featuring Adam West’s likeness, the show producer’s aging children, a third party “content acquisition specialist” called Classic Media, and a weird legal concept called a “Dutch agreement” that’s almost too convenient to be believed. An excerpt from the article:

Classic offered Fox a seven-figure sum for its stake in ‘Batman.’ Per the contract, Fox had to sell or buy it for the same price. Kaplan’s strategy had made it a no-lose proposition for Ellenbogen: either Fox sold its share, allowing Classic and Warner Bros. to proceed, or Fox would pay roughly three times what Classic had paid for the rights. In the end, Fox decided to buy, which consolidated the series under one banner.

The entire series is due out on home video next week, and apparently the picture quality of the transfers is excellent. That’s the good news. The bad news is, after all that trouble, the studios responsible seem intent on gouging their patient customers; the full set is currently listed at US$175 on Amazon.

Read the article at