Scott Rosenberg involved in legal problems and accused of theft? What are the odds?
Cowboys & Aliens studios Universal Pictures and Platinum Studios have been sued by cartoonist Stephen Busti, who claims that the graphic novel and Jon Favreau movie infringes on his strip ‘Cowboys and Aliens’, which appeared in Bizarre Fantasy #1 in 1994.
TMZ reports that Busti’s story was spotlighted in a 1995 issue of Comic Shop News on the same page that ran a story about Platinum’s Scott Rosenberg. The studio executive later presented the Cowboys & Aliens concept to the studio.
Platinum produced a Cowboys & Aliens poster in 1997 and sold the rights to the property to Universal and Dreamworks. It did not appear in graphic novel form until 2006.
DreamWorks has signed Len Wiseman (Underworld) to direct Atlantis Rising, an adaptation of the Platinum Studios titles. The studio, according to Variety, acquired the property in April at the urging of producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
Scott O. Brown and Tim Irwin crafted the five-issue miniseries which concluded in the spring. The story tells of an underground civilization that begins to cause concern among the surface world’s governments. A war between surface and sea is inevitable, it seems.
“The comic brings a fresh, techno-thriller approach to a story that holds all the tenets of a classic us-vs.-them alien invasion movie,” Kurtzman told The Hollywood Reporter. Orci added, “No sea horses or tridents here.”
DreamWorks is also working with Kurtzman and Orci on another Platinum property, Cowboys & Aliens, with Robert Downey, Jr. attached to star.
Wiseman is also working with the studio on Motorcade, which is expected to shoot first.
D.J. Coffman’s Hero by Night has been optioned by IM Global for adaptation into a live-action television series. The book, released by Platinum Studios, won their 2006 Comic Book Challenge competition.
The Hollywood Reporter says the project is about “young landlord Jack King, who uncovers the lair of the title character. Determined to make some extra cash, Jack auctions the Hero’s journal on eBay, raising the ire of a dormant madman.”
Coffman went on to serve as a judge for the 2007 competition before a highly public falling out between the creator and Platinum over rights and payments. The conflict largely stemmed from Hero being used on Drunk Duck and Wowio, the digital portals Platinum owns, and payments coming erratically, if at all. The series, as a result, was suspended after three issues.
At his blog, Coffman admitted, "No, I was not informed. I can’t say that I’m surprised because Platinum Studios probably were afraid I’d blab about it on my blog, which has been known to kill deals and stuff I’m told. And I can’t say I’m surprised at all as how things have gone down this year, which is probably no secret at all to anyone who knows anything about this stuff in the slightest.
"I’m going to bite my tongue a little here, but only for the sake of having OTHER things going on that NOBODY in the outside world knows about, so having my name and creation in the Hollywood Reporter and out in the BUZZ isn’t a bad thing. (although sometimes I feel like I do need to shower afterward)
"I can say this about Hero By Night. It is without a doubt the BEST thing Platinum Studios has in it’s entire library. The best universe for sure. And that’s not meant to slam anything else, and it’s not meant as just cocky-creator speak… it’s truth culled from a thousand destinations.
"How do I feel about the news? Well, it’s a press release, and that doesn’t mean a whole lot about actually getting something made, as you can learn from the plethora of press releases that fire out of Hollywood daily. It’s buzz, I guess. I’ve never heard of IM Global before. You’d hope they would consult the creator, and I’d be happy to talk to them. Hero By Night could be a big success for anyone who goes about it properly.
"As for Platinum… well, I’ll bite my tongue and see if they even contact me at all about this now after the fact. I know they don’t HAVE to but…. (I’ve been down that road before) – Ironically, just yesterday I was thinking about sending them communication about what they owe me from my other contract regarding the so far 12 installments of the animated comic online and I noticed that Hero By Night is the #4 downloaded thing on Wowio, so I’m owed something from the downloads there too. Yeah, I keep tabs, I kinda have to. I just figured there was “no money” there. Maybe that’s changed? Hurm. Maybe IM Global or the new advisory board at Platinum will tell em ‘Hey, just let this guy go and make the comics!’”
IM Global is a sales and distribution company founded in March 2007 by Chief Executive Officer Stuart Ford. Their best known theatrical release is Religulous and their home video division is handling Bruce Campbell’s My Name is Bruce. Their television efforts to date have included reality and animated series although they are developing the live-action Hidden Crimes to star Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica).
Home Media Magazine has reported that Platinum Studios has formed an advisory board, featuring a dozen executives from print and mass media to help CEO Scott Mitchell Rosenberg guide their print-to-film projects.
“The vast experience and success with various forms of entertainment that each advisory board member brings with them will allow Platinum to access additional contacts in the film, television, online, retail and video game industries and in development of the 5,600 comic characters and storylines in the Platinum Studios portfolio,” Rosenberg said. “I am excited by each and every member’s willingness to join the Advisory Board and support Platinum in a more formal role.”
Rosenberg’s ambitious total includes Platinum-generated properties in addition to other comic publishers’ whose film rights they represent such as the forthcoming Witchblade film based on the Top Cow character.
The board is comprised of Richard Fowkes, head of business affairs for Legendary Pictures and former EVP in charge of business affairs for the motion picture group at Paramount Pictures; Andrea Hein, former president of Viacom Consumer Products and current EVP of First Wives World; Mark Canton, former chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment and current chairman of Atmosphere Entertainment; Michael Helfant, former president and COO of Marvel Studios; John W. Hyde, former president and CEO of Film Roman and current chairman of Rehab Incorporated; Gale Anne Hurd, chairwoman of Valhalla Motion Pictures; Jerry Katzman, former vice chairman of William Morris Agency; Steve Milo, former president of new media for Marvel Comics; Ed Dille, chairman of Fog Studios; Gareb Shamus, founder of Wizard Entertainment; Charlie Weber, former CEO of Lucasfilm; and Glenn Rigberg, president of Rigberg Entertainment Group.
Platinum has angered creators over payments and legal issues stemming form their recent purchase of Wowio. While they continue to publish comics both in print and on the web, none have broken through as major creative successes. They do have numerous projects in various stages of development. Most notable among the list is Cowboys & Aliens which DreamWorks is developing and has Robert Downey, Jr. attached to star.
Platinum was formed in 1997 after Rosenberg exited Malibu Comics in the wake of its purchase by Marvel Comics. He has been slow to develop Platinum through the years and didn’t really begin releasing titles until late 2006 despite years of development. On September 25, 2006, Platinum pruchased DrunkDuck, a webcomics site and began a strong didigtal initiative that led to the purchase earlier this year of Wowio.
Their media initivative has been limited to the Showtime series Jeremiah, based on a European properrty licensed by the studio. Platinum Studios posted net losses of $4.3 million in 2006 and $5.1 million in 2007.
It’s official. Platinum has purchased Wowio. I won’t have a chance to get into details on the numbers yet, but expect something soon.
Under the terms of the Agreement the Company acquired from the Members 100% of the membership interests of WOWIO for a total purchase price of $3,150,000 payable in shares of common stock of the Company.
Over at his blog, D.J. Coffman, creator of Hero by Night and formerly of Platinum Studios, goes through what he says is the new contract for creators from Wowio, the Web comics outlet that is reportedly going to be purchased by Platinum.
Perhaps not surprising after his acrimonious falling out with Platinum over late payments, Coffman takes issue with several aspects of the contract.
"For revenues derived from Ecommerce Option, Publisher shall receive 50% percent of the quarterly gross revenue generated by sales of Ebooks of the Publisher’s Content.
For revenues derived from Sponsorship Option, Publisher shall receive (i) 50 cents ($0.50 USD) per download for eTexts of less than 100 pages; and (ii) One dollar ($1.00 USD) per download for eTexts of 100 pages and above.
All Royalties shall be paid to Publisher on a quarterly basis, within 45 days following the end of each calendar quarter."
* Couple things here… again, the thought of splitting 50/50 profits on an ebook sale with anyone is ridiculous to me. And the part about when you’re SUPPOSED to be paid, turns my stomach a little in the light of the situation I was in with Platinum. I’m guessing everything will go smoothly during the “transition” period when the old Wowio people are still managing things.. but when the keys are handed over to Platinum, I’ve got a BADDDddddddd feeling about people being paid on time. That’s not an assumption, that’s a proven fact, regardless of the articles written about creators owed, printer representives telling me they were owed and COMIC BOOK NEWS sites telling me they were owed money… and the Drunk Duck kids over there, there was a bunch of “mobile wallpaper” people never paid. I have a really good friend who had his wallpapers up through their service before, and when he asked, he was told that “none sold” but he knew better because his own family had boughten them from the site!!!! — Anyways, THAT’S who will be running this shindig now. That’s who owns them. You have been warned.
A lot of questions have been thrown around of late regarding the financial status of comics publisher Platinum Studios, especially after Hero by Night creator D.J. Coffman went public with news that he hadn’t been paid for work and was facing foreclosure.
I spent the past several weeks investigating Platinum’s finances and interviewing Coffman, Platinum President Brian Altounian and other sources.
What came up is that Platinum is in a precarious financial situation, in the red by more than $10 million. An independent auditor warned that the company is a serious threat to go under. You can read the article at Publishers Weekly right here.
Platinum indicated to me that they wouldn’t be giving any more interviews regarding the company’s finances or the situation with Coffman.
Platinum has created a blog, where they give the unedited transcript of my interview with Altounian. You can read that right here. I haven’t had a chance yet to check it against my record of the interview.
You have to at least admire the resilience of Platinum Studios. Even as they’re raked over the coals for not paying the winner of a past Comic Book Challenge, they push ahead with the 2008 event.
At the Comic Book Challenge Web site, they’ve announced the top 50 in this year’s competition, who will fight on for the right to have their book published by Platinum.
The top 50 entrants, who include people from as far away as India, Singapore and Argentina, will now submit video pitches to be judged by a celebrity panel of industry and Hollywood insiders at a secret location in early August. Platinum Studios will sign the winner to a publishing deal, which will include print, online and mobile. In addition, the company will seek opportunities to develop the property for film and television.
“Moving the contest completely online this year opened it up to many more people, truly making this a worldwide event in which anyone can participate,” notes Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, chairman and CEO of Platinum Studios. “And the wide geographic diversity of the Top 50 is a testament to that.”
Meanwhile, Hero by Night creator DJ Coffman, who won an earlier challenge, writes on his blog that he finally got paid what he was due from Platinum. All it took was dragging Platinum’s lack of payment into public, where the publisher was denigrated en masse.
Fed Ex showed up with a check from Platinum paying me up to date anything that was owed to me, so that whole issue is over with. I’m glad they paid me, and honestly none of this would have blown up for me if I hadn’t nearly lost my house and life banking on or trusting that money would show up on time. It is what it is though, and I learned a valuable lesson that there is no job security anywhere, no matter what a piece of paper says. The envelope included a letter saying my “consultant” agreement with them was terminated as of today, which is fine with me, because in my mind it was terminated when checks never really showed up on time in the terms of that agreement.