How an Aspen movie theater could end up owning Ingmar Bergman films

« YouTube dares record labels to live without its users | Main | WatchmenWatch: Case settled; what have we all learned? »

How an Aspen movie theater could end up owning Ingmar Bergman films

Thu Jan 15, 2009 @ 01:41PM PST

By Eriq Gardner

Bergman,ingmar Foreign companies often ignore adverse U.S. court judgments. But for Svensk Filmindustri, shrugging off nearly $10 million may cost the Swedish film studio the U.S. rights to the entire film catalog of legendary filmmaker Ingmar Bergman.

Owners of Aspen, Colorado-based movie theater Isis Theater have recently registered with the U.S. Copyright Office the rights to many films in Svensk's film library, including Lasse Hallstrom's "My Life as a Dog," Bo Widerberg's "Elvira Madigan" and the Bergman catalog. Here's the registration notice and a list of titles.

Isis made the move after a Colorado District Court ordered the rights transfer to make good on money owed by Svensk to Isis stemming from a loan guaranty made on the lease of its Aspen theater. In 1997, Isis, Svensk, and Resort Theaters of America partnered on a plan to develop upscale movie multiplexes at resorts. That failed when RTA declared bankruptcy three years later.

Isis then sued and in 2003, a Colorado District Court ordered Svensk to pay $5.9 million. The Court later added $850,000 in costs and fees and imposed a $2,500-a-day contempt of court penalty. Still, Svensk has refused to pay up. As Isis has pursued the money it started a website called Garnish Svensk that displays a running ticker on how much is owed.

Isis now reasons that having a claim to Bergman films might actually free them to wider distribution and a new audience. The company has already launched a new website, SwedishClassicFilms.com.

One thing to keep in mind is the precedent here.

Ignoring foreign judgments had been a commonplace part of international jurisprudence. (The head of media giant Bonnier Group last year proclaimed that "A court decision in Colorado means nothing in Sweden.") But film studios, with foreign IP assets, now seem to have more liability than the average corporation. After all, if it can happen in Colorado, it can happen anywhere.

TrackBack URL for this entry:
https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451d69069e2010536cad76a970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference How an Aspen movie theater could end up owning Ingmar Bergman films:


The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

The Hollywood Reporter
Contact: Patrice Atiee at 323.525.2014 or patrice.atiee@thr.com


The Hollywood Reporter is Your Complete Film Resource

The columnists and bloggers who write for The Hollywood Reporter have their collective finger on the pulse of the boxoffice. Martin Grove and the other THR columnists deliver their thoughts on the film industry in an uncompromised style. Subscribe to THR today and get the latest views from these film experts and get the latest movie reviews as well.