Monday, July 21, 2008

Is Babylon 5 Finished?

Folks. I'm sure this is not really news for the Babylon 5 aficionado, but I thought I'd post it just in case anyone missed it. I spotted the update at Starlog, which of course points you to J. Michael Straczynski's official site. It was posted July 13. Anyway, it wasn't exactly encouraging news even to someone such as myself who is still just discovering the series and is only midway through it.

Re: recent discussions on TMoS and more The Lost Tales.
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B5:The Lost Tales was commissioned at a $2 million budget to, yet one more time,"test the waters" for B5. We did what we could with that, and that was that. As we did with Rangers, which also suffered from not having a lot of money because of concerns about "is there really a B5audience?" Which is, of course, a foolish question from a studio that has never really understood what it has in B5.
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Of late, there have been more discussions from WB about doing more DVDs, again at a low cost, or a cable thing, again with minimal investment.
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So for the last few months, I've been giving this whole subject a lot of quiet thought. And I've come to a conclusion.
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B5 as a five year story stands beautifully on its own. If anything else is to be continued from that story, it should be something that adds to the legacy of B5, rather than subtracts from it.
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As well intentioned as Rangers and TLT were, as enticing as it was to return to those familiar waters, in the end I think they did more to subtract from the legacy than add to it. I don't regret having made them, because I needed to go through that to get to the point where I am now psychologically, but from where I sit now, I wouldn't make them again.
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So I've let everyone up here know that I'm not interested in doing anymore low-budget DVDs. I'm not interested in doing any low-budget cable things or small computer games. The only thing I would be interested in doing regarding Babylon 5 from this point on is a full-featured, big-budget feature film.
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It's that or nothing.
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And if it's nothing, I'm totally cool with that because the original story stands on its own just fine. I'm not lobbying for it, I'm not asking fans to write in about it (nor should you) because such campaigns never really have much impact...that's simply the position I've taken up here. Lord knows I don't lack for other things to do these days. I'm busier on more prestige projects with terrific people and great film-makers than at any other time in my career.
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At the end of the day, for me, it's not just a matter of getting more B5. It's a matter of getting more *good* B5 that respects what came before it and doesn't have to compromise visually or in terms of action. The original show deserves better than that, the surviving cast members deserve better than that, and the fans who have support edit over the years definitely deserve better than that. A lot better.
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So I've drawn that line in the sand, and I'm happy living on which ever side of that line the universe puts me. Just thought you should know,'cause it's your show too.

7 comments:

Havremunken said...

Hey,

I saw that, and I must admit that I support jms on this one. As much as I was thrilled to see more B5 last year, I think the actual series' is the best and most important story - with the exception of "In the Beginning", the other "extra" work has not been up to the level of, say, season 3 or 4.

That said, should a real, big-screen B5 movie ever be produced, I am *so* there. :)

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think that this probably means the end of B5, as I find it very unlikely that they will grant him the total creative control over a feature film that he demands.

I think he made the right decision. WB has been "testing the waters" for about 10 years now, never being willing to risk anything more than minimal investment even though their revenue expectations were by far surpassed every time. They seem to think the fans will buy it anyway.

M.

Anonymous said...

btw. jmsnews (where you most likely got the message) isn't JMS' official site, it's just a fansite. There is no JMS official site.

M.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Yeah Starlog directed me over to that fan site. I didn't realize it was a fan site. Lot of cool stuff out there. I'm with y'all though. Build a film and we will come. It would be interesting to see how a film would be centered around what characters. What is TMOS?

Anonymous said...

TMOS was a B5 feature film project called "The Memory of the Shadows". It was started in 2003/2004, I think and was about to be filmed in 2004, when it was cancelled literally at the last minute (from what I gathered, they'd booked Elstree studios fpr shooting already).

It's a bit complicated; WB owns everything B5 except for the theatre movie rights, which still belong to JMS. WB was prepared to fund the movie only on the condition that the main characters are recast with major actors. JMS wouldn't go along with that and tried to get funding elsewhere. A group of investors was put together who commissioned the script, but ultimately that consortium was unable to provide the funds necessary (apparently they had counted on WB stepping in anyway, which didn't happen). So the project was dropped.

The script still belongs to said consortium, and thus isn't available unless it is bought back. But it included Franklin and G'kar, so it wouldn't be usable without major rewrites anyway.

M.

Anonymous said...

One additional note: JMS was approached by WB in 2006 with the idea of making a feature film, shortly after Katsulas, who was a close friend of JMS, had passed. JMS said he wasn't ready emotionally to do anything on a big scale so shortly after Katsulas' death, but didn't preclude a feature film at a later point in time. That was when he suggested the Lost Tales project. Since the end of last year, there have been talks at WB about either making more Lost Tales, or a feature film - two separate divisions at WB who apparently couldn't agree. JMS said he would do a feature film on the condition that he was given full creative control; that was the main point on which the feature film people at WB until now wouldn't agree.

M.

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

M!
I'm really glad I asked that question. I had no idea- thank you for the detailed response. Very informative as always. Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I am enlightened by you once again.