Executive producer Robert Kuhn spoke with The Austin Chronicle about the
tangled legal history of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
Austin Chronicle: What is the status of the many lawsuits that have resulted from
Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation?
Robert Kuhn: As we speak, there are no suits. What happened was that Chuck Grigson,
the trustee for the owners of the original Chainsaw, had licensed the property
to Kim Henkel and me to make this new film. Then, of course, we made the deal with
Columbia/TriStar who, in their contract, had agreed to do a theatrical release. This
was signed effective of October of 1995.
AC: So the film had actually sat around a number of years before it actually got
RK: Well, yes and no. We didn't actually finish the film until 1994, when we got
the post-production done. We had made the deal with Columbia/TriStar much earlier
in the year. We had to satisfy a ton of different things, legally as well as actual
product. In other words, we had to make all kinds of different versions of the video
transfer, and all sorts of post-production stuff, all of which of course they threw
in the trash because they changed the name of the film [from The Return of the
Texas Chainsaw Massacre]. And then they also re-edited it in some fashion.
In any event, Columbia/TriStar entered into this contract before anybody really
knew who Matthew McConaughey or Renee Zellweger -- the two leads in the picture --
really were. They had agreed to do the theatrical release and to spend no less that
$500,000 on prints and advertising. Well, they actually started gearing up to do
the theatrical release and even put trailers out on their video releases saying "coming
to a theatre near you" in January, and then in June of 1996. Originally, they
wanted to hold the film until after the release of Jerry Maguire with Renee
Zellweger, which didn't seem unreasonable to us. So that came and went and nothing
happened. Then they started telling us that, off the record, CAA [Creative
Artists Agency], which is Matthew's agent, was putting pressure on them not to release
the film theatrically. In any event, we sued Columbia/TriStar, and then ultimately
decided that we were not going to be successful because the arbitration provisions
in the contract were so strong. We dismissed our cases and are now preparing to file
another lawsuit against CAA, for interference with our contract. That will probably
be filed this week.
AC: How did the film get to CFP? Did Columbia/TriStar farm it out to them?
RK: Yes. Interestingly enough, we did a deal with CFP before Columbia/TriStar
to do a test market for us. We had thought that maybe CFP would do a theatrical release,
but as it turned out they weren't that impressed by the test market to agree to do
that without taking all the rights. Of course, we ultimately ended up giving
Columbia/TriStar that anyway, but they gave us $1.3 million, and CFP wasn't in a
position to do that.
AC: End game?
RK: Well, we definitely feel that Columbia/TriStar has not done what they agreed
to do in terms of trying to market this film in the best possible fashion. They have
not tried to exploit this film to monetarily benefit us as they should have. They've
just low-keyed it. They don't want to be guilty of exploiting Matthew because of
their relationship with CAA, which is the strongest single force in Hollywood these
days. You get on the wrong side of them, you're in trouble.
So I understand their problem, but at the same time, they should have either given
the film back to us or they should have done the best release they could have done.
And they haven't done that.