How I Didn´t Buy DVD Rights to the TV Series “The Professionals” (Lewis Collins – Bodie Has Died)

Under normal circumstances I would have been be frustrated, because of a year of work and a zero result, but I was actually glad. You will surely ask why. The year 2008 was the last interesting year for significant sales of DVDs, especially those inserted in magazines. This market got finally fully satiated and started to be loss-incurring.



Any time someone popular passes away, although you haven´t met him personally, you have a feeling of grievance from loss of someone who you did know somehow. I have experienced it already many times and the death of Lewis Collins this week was no exception. Not only in our country, but also elsewhere in the world, Collins was known rather as Bodie from a TV series watched by both Czech and Slovak viewers.

Just to remind: The Professionals was a British TV crime series telling stories about a special department of the British Police - CI5. The main characters were agents Doyle (Martin Shaw) and Bodie (Lewis Collins) and the head of their department Major Cowley (Gordon Jackson). The series was shot from 13 June 1977 to 22 May 1981 and broadcasted for the first time from 30 December 1977 to 6 February 1983. It should be noted that the series was enormously successful both in Great Britain and worldwide. Paradoxical is that both main protagonists Doyle and Bodie, shown in the series as best friends, did not get on very well with each other in their private lives, which many a time escalated to tense moments during the TV series shooting….

 

Silence is an enemy of business 

The purpose is not to write a Bodie´s obituary or to praise my popular series, but I want to share my personal experience with you.  As a big fan of The Professionals, in 2008 I wanted to buy DVD rights for the Czech and SlovakRepublic for all 57 episodes that had been shot.    I started my mission in February 2008. First it was necessary to find the owners of the rights, I will not mention the official name of the company – let´s say X. I approached them and we started working on a draft of a contract and its requisites. It is obvious to everyone that it was mainly a matter of the price. With respect to the fact that the series had already been dubbed in our country, and it had been done really excellently (I must say that I always watch English speaking films in original, but this time I was very glad to make an exception – the performance of A. Švehlík and after that K. Heřmánek in the role of Doyle, P. Oliva in the role of Bodie, J. Adamíra, and after his death O. Brousek Sr. in the role of Cowley, as well as other ones was really excellent), it was necessary to contact the owners of the dubbed version and to confirm them that I had obtained a so-called from Access Letter the company X, which is a conformation that you own DVD rights for a particular territory, in this case it was the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.

In the meantime, lawyers of the Licensor (namely the X), the Licensee (namely me) and the owner of the dubbed version were engaged into the process. Then you need the original “art work“, on the basis of which you can produce packaging and other requisites, for example for a marketing campaign.  This again takes a couple of months. Then I have to mention that the accountable persons from the company X (and the other ones “accumulated” on them) were permanently out of office, then came holidays, All Souls Day, Thanksgiving Day and I don´t know what else, so we got to the final on about 15 December. What was crucial was the price, namely one thousand American dollars for one episode, i.e. altogether USD 57 thousand and the licence period was seven years. So I was looking forward to have a beautiful Christmas present, after such a long time I would have deserved it, but just before the Christmas I received a quite unobtrusive e-mail, asking me whether I didn´t want to “increase my bid”, because  they had another bidder offering more.

I replied that, though unwillingly, I would think about it, and I asked by how much should I go up. No reply, then came the Christmas, the New Year´s Eve and in January 2009 I wrote them that I was prepared to sign the contract. Silence again, which is always suspicious. 

 

Good-luck to the lucky buyers...

Early in February, an e-mail arrived, saying: “If you want to make the deal, you have to pay 150 thousand euros immediately.”

This was an interesting moment: Under normal circumstances I would have been frustrated, because of a year of work and a zero result, but I was actually glad. You will surely ask why. The year 2008 was the last interesting year for significant sales of DVDs, especially those inserted in magazines. This market got finally fully satiated and started to be loss-incurring. So I congratulated the gentlemen from the company X on a really good deal made for them and I wondered who the lucky buyers were, whether the gentlemen of the company X told me the truth. When the DVDs started coming out, I read the name of course and I did not follow it up any more. So the question is: Was it a good or a bad deal for them? Maybe, however, with the death of the sexy Bodie the popularity of the series will recover and the money will roll right in again….

 

Jan Vinter Author Dr. Jan Vinter is a financial consultant and film producer

Vinter is renowned consultant in the field of domestic and international banking, business and politics. He worked for several international banks (Mitsubishi Bank, Citibank, ABN AMRO Bank, Erste Bank) in various managerial positions. At the political level he is closely linked to all its constitutional parts – Government, Parliament, political parties, President etc. He also lectures at the department of International Law and Relations at Charles University Law Faculty in Prague. He wrote many articles Re: economic, historical and social topics. These articles were published both in the Czech Republic and abroad. (jan.vinter@volny.cz)

 

The article in Czech version can be found here

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