Friday, May 11, 2007

Alfredo Leone Wins Fights for Bava Rights

Alfredo Leone (pictured) and International Media Films have emerged victorious from Roman-based legal proceedings concerning their right to license two Mario Bava films, BLACK SUNDAY [La maschera del demonio, 1960] and KILL, BABY... KILL! [Operazione paura, 1966].

The first of these suits was filed against Leone and company in June 2006 by Intra Movies s.r.l., an Italian firm defending their supposed right to license La maschera del demonio throughout the world. The second suit was filed by Leone and company against Variety Communications and Euro Immobilfin, the licensors of KILL, BABY... KILL! to the American DVD company, Dark Sky Films.

On April 17, 2007, the Court of Rome dismissed the petition filed against Leone and International Media by Intra Movies s.r.l., issuing a detailed legal paper that meticulously traced La maschera del demonio's chain of ownership from its original producer/owner Galatea s.r.l. and Unidis s.r.l. to International Media Films, who obtained the rights from Cinestampa Internationale s.r.l. in 1999.

A translation of the original court document notes, "that the continuity of the transfer chain of the rights in the work in question, as specified above, implies the full grounds for its claim of exclusive ownership of the economic enjoyment rights of the film La maschera del demonio, with the exclusion of Italy and Spain, since these territories are expressly excluded from the transfer documents cited, so that for the remaining world territory the aforementioned defendant is the legitimate owner of said economic rights in the cinematographic work."

Secondly, a translation of a court document dated February 5, 2007 finds that "International Media Film Inc. is the exclusive holder of the rights of beneficial enjoyment, in every form and in every means of dissemination, of the film Operazione Paura ['Operation Fear'], also known as KILL BABY KILL, directed by Mario Bava, in the entire world, excluding Italy, the former colonies and Malta, [and] bars Variety Communications and Euro Immobilfin [sp?] from all beneficial enjoyment of said work, and orders the Plaintiff and the impleaded third party, jointly and severally, to provide compensation for the damages caused to International Media Film Inc...."

The short version of all this legalese is that Leone and International Media Films have proved their ownership of BLACK SUNDAY throughout most of the world, excluding Italy and Spain, and KILL, BABY... KILL! everywhere except Italy, the former Italian colonies (Italian North Africa, etc), and Malta.

One hopes that this ruling will help to establish Leone's right to reclaim the AIP version of BLACK SUNDAY from the vaults at MGM -- and also BLACK SABBATH and EVIL EYE, the English versions of two other Bava films whose rights he obtained through the same deal with Cinestampa in 1999. However, there is a more immediate result. The Roman court ruling is likely to cancel Dark Sky Films' officially "postponed" DVD release of KILL, BABY... KILL!, which the company licensed last year from Variety Communications. A spokesman for Dark Sky Films expressed no knowledge of the court ruling, and the company has yet to make a formal announcement about the fate of its Bava disc.

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