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What kind of safeguards has JMS put in place to ensure that the B5 Universe stays true to his vision if by chance it is bought back after he passes away? Maybe one of you could pose the question to him on the groups he frequents?
Just guessing, but I think the way such things are normally done whatever rights/copyrights and so on would pass to his estate.
Keep in mind, though, that JMS does not own the rights to B5.

AOL Time Warner owns the rights; JMS merely has some unknown form of veto/approval over some of what they can do. That's something that would be less likely to pass to his estate.
You posted this same message somewhere else and I answered it there. :)

Marty is mostly right. JMS doesn't own the show, the studio does. They can legally do anything they want with it whether he's dead or alive. The current contract requires them to consult him before doing any new B5 projects, but doesn't require them to follow his suggestions, and certainly doesn't give him veto power. They just have to keep him informed.

As a practical matter the series is too much one man's vision for WB to be dumb enough to try to do something without JMS as long as he's around. The show has never been either a big enough expense or a big enough profit center for the studio to feel the usual need to exercise total control over the project. JMS is in a position analagous to Woody Allen's relationship with United Artists early in his carreer - every couple of years Woody would make a modestly budgeted comedy that made the studio a small profit. They got approval on budget and concept, and apart from that left him alone. They even gave him approval over the advertising and marketing campaigns that would be used in New York and L.A. (Since he would never see the result, he let the studio do whatever it wanted to try to sell his movies in Omaha and Shreveport. ;))

Once he's gone...

B5 will be one of those library properties that the studio owns. If they run out of ideas again 30 years from now (or there is a fad for 90s nostalgia in the 2020s) they could revive the series as a feature film, TV series or whatever other form of entertainment is popular at the time. Nothing in the world JMS could do to stop it.


This is a question for the all seeing Mr. DeMartino, what do you think it would cost to Buy those rights from Warner Bros.? I just ask because I wonder if another studio or group or even JMS was interested could they buy it? I think everyone would take your best guess as pretty accurate or do you possibly know an exact figure?

If JMS wanted, do you know if he could get that contract changed? I mean I doubt it, but what is your opinion? ;)
1) There's no way to answer a question like that. Warner Bros. would have to want to sell the rights, and they have no particular reason to want to. The show's been in the black since its initial airings - every dime of syndication money has been pure profit. The DVDs have certainly returned a healthy profit above and beyond their production costs. Things like books and games are licensed properties - somebody else pays you for permission to use your property, then they also pay you a royalty per unit sold. You pay none of the production cost of the book or the game, and assume none of the risk that a given product will fail. There is enough of an audience (confirmed and even expanded by the continuing healthy DVD sales) that the property is likely to continue returning a small but steady profit for years to come. Why would Warner Bros. sell it?

2) Why would anyone else want to buy it. Again, we're talking profitable, but not blockbuster. Based on the show's past earnings and its future potential on home video and in reruns over, say, the next 20 years, WB would certainly ask many, many millions to sell B5 outright. But it is hard to imagine anyone paying kind of money to acquire the title. Done right I think something like the Telepath War could be a very appealing mainstream story, very comparable to something like The X-Men. But because it lacks a built-in audience as big as X-Men had, and because it isn't so well known that even non-fans will have at least heard of it, a B5 theatrical film is not going to be a $200 million dollar gross blockbuster. And there is virtually no "franchise" value to such a feature film, which pretty much can't have a direct sequel. (Since two of the main characters are dead by the end of the film and another one goes into hiding for 15 years immediately after the fade out.)

3) JMS's contract was signed years ago with WB. No, he can't change it because there is no advantage to the studio to change it, and they hold all the cards in these situations. If he suddenly became Steven Speilberg or George Lucas he might be able to renegotiate, because then he'd have the kind of clout that studios have to respect. But he's a writer (and primarily a TV writer) not a movie director. Directors outrank writers in Hollywood. Movie people outrank TV people. Being a successful TV writer puts you about on the same level as a movie costume designer. No, wait, make that caterer. :) Any way you slice it, WB is not going to give JMS more control over his creation. He has nothing to offer them (or to threaten them with) that would induce them to do so. Besides, if he were in a position to renegotiate his contract I believe he'd be trying to force WB to actually pay him a share of the profits they're raking in on the show. (Which he theoretically is entitled to, but which studio bookkeeping will prevent him from ever seeing. You think Enron and Worldcom are scandals? Someone should open the books at Warner Bros., Fox and Sony.)

I have a feeling you were drifting in the direction of "Why can't JMS buy the show back from Warner Bros." or even "Why can't the fans buy it from the studio"

WB spent well over $100 million converting B5 from a stack of typed pages into a living, breathing TV show. They're now enjoying a return on that investment. At the same time they were doing that they were taking their chances on other TV shows - many of which were cancelled (or never made it past the pilot stage) and therefore were dead losses for the studio. People forget that the successful shows have to subsidize the unsuccessful ones or studios go out of busines. That would have to be factored-in to any asking price WB put on the show.

Ultimately, of course, a thing is worth what someone else is willing to pay for it - no more, no less. (Attempts to prove otherwise are pointless, annoying, and in the end destructive, as witness half the politics of the 20th century.)

Neither JMS nor the fans have access to the kind of money that it would take to buy WB out of a $100 million investment. Sorry. :)


and certainly doesn't give him veto power. They just have to keep him informed.

Yep. I was misremembering something he had said a long time ago about having approval rights over merchandising, which may or may not even still apply now that the series has concluded.
Not even if all of us won the lottery...? ;)

I suppose that when we all manage to win the lottery, we'll find out... :p

Actually, I was thinking that if we got together enough money to buy some of their money-losing businesses (AOL, perhaps? ;)) and asked for B5 as a throw-in... :)
Actually, I was leaning more toward another studio buy out. Your right, I was thinking the same thing, why would they sell? I just wanted to theorize on if they did. I mean you never know they do crazy things. I hate to think of B5 as Mothballed and only being rereleased or aired every decade or so. There are so many paths this great story could take and it would be a shame to see it go to waist. I don't think Warner Bros. will take a chance on another spinoff where maybe another studio might, in my dreams. I guess all we can hope for is the DVD sales will be good enough for them to see possible future profits and maybe get a new mini-series or something if JMS is interested.

There is no way I ever invision B5 as a Big Screen feature. I've said before I'd be to concerned with the crap they'd put in it to make it for a mass audience. Like most features based on an existing product the true fans would probably hate it! (Unless, in my dreams again, JMS and the old team had complete creative control over it! Crazy talk, I know!)

By the way, I don't believe you when you say there is no way to answer this question with at least an educated guess. I'm sure you know the figures for all the DVD sales so far as well as the profits and costs of the show to date. I am sure if you don't have them you know where to get them. I'm betting you could estimate a round figure to stick on top of all that so they would see a huge profit. You know all and see all in the business of B5, but I understand not wanting to do all that number crunching just for fun! :LOL:

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