Babylon Podcast #122: Fan Reactions to the JMS Announcement

Welcome to Show #122!

Yes, it’s late. These are late and lazy show notes.

We talked more about JMS’ announcement, and fielded some more commentary about it.

Beware when the Shadows approach with chicken scissors.

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Promo: Billibub Baddings and The Case of the Pitcher’s Pendant / Digital Magic


  1. LOL…..not my fault this time! Sorry….had to say it before Gary accused me of causing it! 😛

  2. Wow, Brad, you need to chill dude. JMS only decided not to do anymore B5, and you’re acting like he kidnapped and tortured your dog. I was upset too, but relax.

  3. GaryTheGreat says

    Brad, I’m shocked that you would even accuse me of such a thing.

    Back to the actual show (Not everything is about you Brad;))

    I’ve been thinking and thinking about this announcement. jms did good quality B5 for 5+ years. I think it really comes down to JMS wanting to now do high quality B5 or nothing else.

    I don’t fault him for this decision. Could he wring penny upon penny out of the property? yes. Does he need to? No.

    I guess I think of jms as an author who does a series of books, and then announces they are moving on to another story. Did we fault Douglas Adams when he moved on to Dirk Gently from the Hitchhiker’s series?

    TV shows, check. TV movies, check. Books, check. Comics, check. Direct to DVD, check. Movie,… movie……

    Also, JMS did not say no B5 ever again. What he said was that he wants to do a fairly budgeted movie. He can write to budget, but he is sick of being stuck with what is really substandard funding. He had a small budget all through the show. They gave him a small budget for Lost Tales.

    I think he is sick of having to prove himself when he has done so, repeatedly. I don’t know of the studio ever losing with B5. They wouldn’t lose with a movie either.

    jms still loves this property, and wants to do right by it. I think Jeff and Brad need to ease up on jms a little.

  4. I’ll toss this in to the mix: look at how well “Serenity” did -or did not -perform at the box office. Movies are a whole different animal than even television. In the cinema, you’ve got to appeal to a wider audience, especially if you’re doing a big-budget film. IIRC, “Star Trek- The Voyage Home” was the most successful (in dollar terms) of the Trek movies, and IMHO the reason was because it was low in Star Trek “content”.

    Would that be the fate with a B5 movie? Remember, JMS already put the kibosh on The Movement of Shadows project because WB wanted to recast the characters amongst other things. It might actually be a good thing not to get a big-budget movie.

  5. GaryTheGreat says

    Tim raises some valid points. I guess it would have to be decided whether this movie will cater to the fans, or try to grab more market share. More inside stuff = less viewers, etc…

    At this point I don’t need much backround information. ( I already found out Ivanova took her coffee plants with her.)
    I just want more story. I’d be happy with less retreading of series details to explore unexplored areas of the B5 universe.

  6. Dennis N. Kristos says

    Summer and co.,

    I’ve just listened to Shows #121 & #122 and need to comment on what seems to be an erroneous assumption regarding B5 production rights and who insisted on recasting existing roles for “B5: The Memory of Shadows” on the part of Tim and/or Brad. To set the record straight and this came from JMS when he sent out his post about aborting “B5: TMoS” at its eleventh hour, back in late February 2005.

    “Babylon 5” is JMS’ intellectual property (of that there’s no doubt), but Warner owns the name brand. Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution owns the rights to any and all “Babylon 5”, Crusade, TV, Cable and DVD projects, but they do not own rights to any B5 motion pictures. Those rights remain with JMS (and I think to some extent, with Doug Netter) since Warner’s didn’t exercise that option. In the event of feature films being made, since Warners owned the “Babylon 5” property name, Warner Bros. Pictures would market and distribute B5 feature films.

    As to the recasting of existing roles in “TMoS”, Warner Bros. may have had some input, but the issue was pressed at insistence of JMS’ production partner (and the film’s erstwhile financiers), Winchester Films (one Alain Gottesman and his partner, LA lawyer Adam W. Rosen). Winchester Films (since merged with Content Films Inc.) was a boutique film distributor in the UK and Europe. They were the ones who sent out casting sides to agents in just about every major movie centre during November/December of 2004. After two months of meetings and negotiations including the partners’ approach to former B5 cast members with what were tantamount to insulting salary offers, the situation ultimately became untenable and JMS had no choice but to pull the plug. “TMoS”‘s script, was commissioned by Gottesman and Rosen and has remained in their possession since the deal went south.

    Best, –= Dennis =–

    Co-moderator, Northwest Babylon 5 mailing list

  7. Arkle:

    I am the kind of person who speaks exactly what is on his mind. I pull no punches. If you thought I was out spoken here on The Babylon Podcast … you prob would have had a stroke if you listened to our discussion that we had about this on PodCulture 112!

    My issue isn’t with him choosing not to do anymore B5. Heck he can do whatever he wants to with the franchise…it IS his bal after all. My problem is with how he chose to handle the matter. He could have chosen much better words that were not such a smack in the face to the fans who have supported his work thru the years.


  8. Kurt in St George says

    It strikes me that none of us outsiders really know the actual status of the negotiations between Warner Brothers and JMS. When JMS says he will do a feature film or nothing; is this a serious negotiating stance? Does he actually think WB or someone else might pony up for such an project or is JMS putting on a brave face because he believes further negotiations with WB are problematic?

    If JMS correctly believes a movie project is achievable, then we can’t fault him for making this move. I have strong doubts this is the case. (It’s the cynic in me.) I think JMS’s announcement is his way of saving face, his way of looking strong when his aims for TLT’s have been thwarted by Warner Brothers.

  9. Kurt in St George says

    Now about Warner Brothers; they have been spared far too long because of JMS poorly thought out post.

    If I was a Warner Brothers marketing person who had never seen B5. I would look at the sales of the DVD’s of the series and The Lost Tales and wonder how a show which has been off the air for ten years, a show which isn’t in heavy syndication, a show which was shown on a group of loosely affiliated stations; which were a network in name only, the first four years of its run, could have such a strong following.

    I would also start to ask myself if this franchise could be grown into something bigger. Can’t these people see an opportunity when it presents itself? If not for a feature film I think a mini-series with a solid budget combined with reasonable promotion might be the way to go.

    The answer to the above question is No!, they (The WB) don’t see an opportunity, they are idiots.

  10. Mike Tuck says

    Maybe we all should write to Warner Bros. and tell them all of this. After all, I don’t think that they look at this website. They would probably only decide to do a big-budget B5 movie if enough people wrote them and told them that THAT is what they (we) want. It would probably take hundreds or, more likely, thousands of letters to convince them.

  11. I blame Jarsto and his darn witty remarks!

  12. A Studio Lurker says

    I came to Bab5 late, which is ironic since I worked with Warner Bros. marketing and licensing for six years. And there are some things Tim said that are incorrect.

    JMS can’t just publish more B5 on his own. He’d have to make a deal with WB publishing/merchandising/licensing, and they don’t make deals with print-on-demand. Like, ever. It’s too low profile.

    WB is build around high profile projects, with nearly guaranteed returns, and big name actors. Period. What you also havve to know is that WB is not really one company, it was designed and broken up so every division competes with every other divisoin. If you don’t make 18% more profit this year than last, you lose resources. So the heads of each division only go with what they know will make lots of money, fast, with the least investment of time and resources. As much time as they would put into making a B5 deal, they can make a deal recycling Friends and make ten times as much, without worry about whether or not it will come back.

    B5 wasn’t a high profile show like ER, it didn’t have big name actors, and its genre/niche programming. The Powers that Be at WB can’t be bothered with a show like that. That it actually makes money for WB only infuriates them because they don’t want to have to pay attention to it. Also, WB features is threatened by WB home video, so features makes sure that home video never has much money to pay for original programming/direct-to-dvd.

    If Bab5 were at any other studio, where the divisions worked WITH each other instead of AGAINST each other, it would have been moved into features and every division of merchandising a long time ago. On its own, at WB, without big names, it got caught in the gears. SO Tim, its not just stupidity of seeing a profit center, its really also about intra-studio politics and personal importance. When it becomes about ego, it doesn’t matter how much money is involved, you’re screwed.

  13. I understand some of that, but unless WB has always operated against itself, then I don’t understand why the aversion to using their own publishing arm, Warner Books.

    They could publish new books themselves and keep the money “in house” if that’s all they’re worried about. It makes zero sense to completely cut off a franchise that can obviously still make money for them, if bottom line is all they care about.

    If it’s more about interdivisional bottom line competition rather than the conglomerate’s overall bottom line, they’re doing something very wrong. General Electric has many many divisions, but while there may be some cutthroat competition inside the divisions, I doubt you’d see one division *actively* screwing over another just to have a bigger balance sheet to show to daddy.

    Even from a strictly business perspective, that doesn’t make one damned bit of sense. You’d think shareholders would want to encourage a shift in that kind of behavior.

    WB has a property that makes them money. They don’t want to pay attention to it, so they don’t want it to make money, but it makes money anyway. If they really want to not pay attention to it, sell it off to someone else.

    Wait, that’s going back to something that makes sense…

  14. Gary The Great says

    I found this jms quote from 2005:
    This was not the first time someone’s taken a run at a B5 feature film,
    and it will not be the last. Eventually it will happen, because such
    things are simply inevitable. If they can do a Brady Bunch movie, you
    can be sure that sooner or later, somebody’s going to do a B5 movie.
    The only thing I can say without equivocation is that when that day
    comes, as the rights-holder, I will make darned sure that it’s done
    right, because I’d rather have no B5 movie than one that doesn’t live
    up to what fans and I myself would want to see.

    Kinda similar to what JMS recently said. I guess he has been dwelling on this for a while.

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