Bam! Pow! Thwack! Classic Batman is finally coming to DVD!


What’s this? Could it be? Have the nefarious villains that have been keeping the Dynamic Duo locked in the vaults these many years finally been vanquished? Yes, our heroes have prevailed!


Since the dawn of the age of DVD, or at least since studios realized they could make a bundle of money off of releasing old and current seasons of any and every TV show ever made, the fans have been begging … BEGGING … for the release of the classic Batman TV series. What no one wanted to hear was that it was a near impossibility. But why?

Well, when Batman was produced, DC Comics was not owned by Warner Brothers (that happened a year after the show went off the air). Twentieth Century Fox produced the TV show, and once WB got the rights to the characters the two studios have (allegedly) been locked in a bitter feud over who had the rights to release the show (said feud has been denied by both parties). The fact of the matter is, Warner Brothers owns the characters and Fox owns the film, so there had to be some agreement made as to who got what. But …

There were bigger hurdles than just two studio bank accounts to get over. did a lengthy report on why the show was not coming to DVD any time soon back in 2008! Factors included music rights including compositions by Neal Hefti and Nelson Riddle. What residuals would the writers, directors and other behind-the-scenes talent be due, if anything. Cast members from old TV shows have been notoriously shafted in the residual department while the show owners have gotten rich from decades of reruns. Would Adam West, Burt Ward and Yvonne Craig be due any payment, or the estates of any of the other key cast members?

One of the biggest sticking points are the guest stars and cameo appearances.

One of the biggest sticking points are the guest stars and cameo appearances from the “wall climb” segments. Celebrities and characters from other shows popped up during the wall climbing, including Colonel Klink from Hogan’s Heroes, Lurch from The Addams Family, The Green Hornet and Kato, and stars like Jerry Lewis, Dick Clark and Sammy Davis Jr. The character rights in particular are probably the hardest parts of the monetary negotiations. Add to that all of the Guest Villains. Julie Newmar is rumored to be particularly difficult to deal with, although there was a Catwoman bobblehead released recently that bears a striking resemblance to her so maybe she’s finally given in. Besides Newmar, it’s difficult to think of any other villains who are still with us besides Zsa Zsa Gabor (yes, she’s still alive somewhere, we think), John Astin (who filled The Riddlers tights briefly), Joan Collins, and the other Catwoman, Lee Meriwether. Negotiations have to be made with the owners of the characters, and possibly the living actors and the estates of the deceased.

A licensing deal for various props and character likenesses gave many hope that DVDs were soon to come.

Besides these issues, the estate of the producer sued Fox claiming that they had not been properly compensated by the studio. Nothing could move forward while that case was active. The designer of the Batmobile is said to be due compensation because of the unique design of the car, and other props may be unique enough to warrant some kind of compensation. These specific props and gadgets were all settled on recently with a deal that saw the release of toys and collectibles — as well as the Batman ’66 comic — so that was another hurdle that led many to believe the TV show was only a few steps away from becoming a reality on DVD. It should be noted that several episodes have also been left out of TV syndication packages, so whatever rights prevented them from being aired will have to have been resolved as well.

But with today’s news, broken by Conan O’Brien in a tweet seen ’round the world …

Batman tweet

and corroborated by email sent to CliqueClack from Gary Miereanu at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment/Publicity, Warners and Fox and everyone else involved have settled their differences and Batman will indeed be coming to home video as a complete series collection later in 2014 (think: just in time for the holidays). But what can we expect from the release?

Batman is a show that begs for Blu-ray with its highly saturated color palette.

DVDs are certain, but Batman is a show that begs for Blu-ray with its highly saturated color palette (and being shot on film, the quality would be optimal for HD). Adam West has hinted for a couple of years now that he and Ward have been involved in recording audio commentaries for the eventuality of a home video release. With them being the only lead cast members still alive, it is important to have their input. It would be nice to have commentary from anyone else who is still alive, from the guests mentioned above to any behind-the-scenes talent. Are outtakes in existence? Bloopers? Hopefully there will be tons of archival footage to send the fans into Bat-nirvana. A bare bones release will be a huge letdown. So now all we can do is wait. This was a major announcement that many TV on DVD and Batman fans have longed for, so we will sit back, happy with that knowledge that the show is coming, and hope Warner Brothers does right in the end by treating the show with respect.


Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox

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