Rankin/Bass’s Tale of Holiday Woe

Heat Miser

The official Rankin/Bass website has a disturbing front page story that alleges Warner Bros. is witholding millions of dollars owed to Arthur Rankin and Jules Bass, creators of classic holiday specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. More details about the situation can be found in this article printed in Rankin’s hometown Bermuda paper The Mid-Ocean News. According to that piece:

The dispute arose when popular 1980s cartoon ThunderCats was re-released recently as a DVD box set by Warner Bros, which owns the distribution rights to that and 21 other Rankin/Bass titles. The box set went on to sell over a million copies, prompting Mr. Rankin to wonder about profits owed to him and his colleagues. “Sales were jumping off the charts,” said Mr. Rankin in an exclusive interview with the Mid-Ocean News.”But Warner Bros said they didn’t have any accounting on it except that they’d sold a million copies. My legal team started investigating and found out that for the last 20 years they’ve been deducting handling fees of $200,000 annually.”

Mr. Rankin explained that while Warner Bros readily admits an accounting error resulting in $2.6 million of improper deductions, they claim he caught the mistake too late. “They knew it was wrong, but said that because it has been so long, the statute of limitations has kicked in. You would imagine that Warner Bros, which makes an awful lot of money with our productions would say, ‘We’re sorry about our mistake. Here’s what we owe you’.”

(Thanks, James Hutson)


  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    Warner Bros. would probably pay if The Dark Knight hadn’t flopped.

  • http://www.elliotelliotelliot.com Elliot Cowan

    You have missed your calling, Amid.
    You should have been Robin Hood.

  • Don

    Woops, I downloaded all Warner Brothers movies over bittorrent for free. I mean I knew it was wrong but it was so long ago that I don’t owe Warner Brothers anything.

    pathetic

    And of course I’m being facetious. So lawyers, don’t get your panties in a bind.

  • http://inklingstudio.typepad.com/chronicles David Nethery

    An “accounting error” ? $2.6 million dollars is an “accounting error” ?

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com Zekey

    are there NO corporations that are run by honest people? are there any? at all?

  • OM

    …More proof that when the Revolution comes, it’ll be accountants *and* lawyers who are up against the wall.

  • http://inkwellbookstore.blogspot.com/ J.M.

    “You would imagine that Warner Bros, which makes an awful lot of money with our productions would say, ‘We’re sorry about our mistake. Here’s what we owe you’.”

    Sadly, I would imagine quite the opposite.

  • Stu

    Warners will get their numbers guy Bernie Madoff right on this.

  • Asymetrical

    This doesn’t surprise me at all. Hollywood is filled with unscrupulous characters. Then again so is politics eh? Then again so is animation… and church and banks and towns.
    We’re all unscrupulous when no one’s watching to a degree.

    Well, I’m off to now go download all of WB’s movies for free. If they can screw others it seems like fair game. Best part? They can’t even catch me!
    nyah nyahh!

  • http://cartoonelectro.wordpress.com Novid

    This isn’t surprising. This is part of an ongoing long term war between the three owners of this particular series. This just takes the cake though. The DVD’s weren’t of the quality i expect – (even given the fact they had some of the cells, and a majority of the actual film negatives from the series) Even THEN, they should have payed them back, because now it seems that even though Mr Rankin who gave up the rights long ago, wants his due now.

    The reason being is Time Warner is slated to bring back the Cats by 2010 and they might have major problems going ahead. One, 4Kids has time and time again stated they want the franchise, since they planned it. Warners wants to hold it because they see what The Transformers and maybe GI-Joe is doing in the theaters. Rankin knows how much money a new movie of the Thundercats can make.

    But this isn’t without precedent – The company i mentioned before – 4Kids, (in a post that was done here on The Brew about Fox moving away from SatAM) as you already know – had to settle out of court – for past due fees to 4Kids that Fox didn’t pay because 4Kids wanted 90% clearance on Fox Stations on a certain time.

    To tell you how serious 4Kids takes contracts, one of there Voice Actors who worked for Pokemon, broke a non-compete clause when 4Kids lost the rights to dub Pokemon – all the VA had to do was to wait two years then go do the dub, but he didn’t wait – he was fired. So all Fox had to do, was pay 13 million. BUT NO… They had to go to court and weasel their way out of the contract. But Warner Brothers still has money RIGHT? Its only 2.6 MILLION… its not like Warner Brothers lost 50 BILLION to a guy named Madoff right?

    Sometimes Amid, you got to wonder how long before this bubble Warners and Fox have been playing with animation ownership burst on there faces.