It's an all-too-common event in the Internet age. A person makes a cool-looking trailer or fan-film based on a popular film, television or game franchise, then said filmmaker gets a cease and desist letter from the company who actually owns the intellectual property. It's happened again this week -- and this time, it's Marvel trying to put the kibosh on a cool little project.
Director Mike Pecci loves The Punisher -- and he's channeled that love of Marvel's most infamous vigilante into a fan project entitled The Dead Can't Be Distracted -- inspired by Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto's much-loved run on the comic series. In preparation for an online release of the finished film, Pecci has revealed the first teaser trailer for the project, and it's generated a fair amount of attention, including some from the Marvel legal team.
Pecci has commented publicly about the call to stop work on his project -- and he's been refreshingly polite in his attempt to get Marvel to look at his movie, see that it's no threat to the bigger Punisher universe, and give him its blessing. Here are some of his comments:
"According to Marvel it would ‘confuse the audience’ into believing that it's an official Marvel production. At first, I was flattered that the quality of our work might even compare to the millions they spend on production and advertising, but then the reality of it all set in. Marvel legal was demanding that I don’t release the film! Since when does Marvel go after fan films? Wasn’t there a recent and heavily promoted Punisher fan film with Thomas Jane? What could I do about this?
What would you do when staring at a letter from one of the biggest, wealthiest companies in the movie business? They can put me out of business with the snap of their fingers. Do I have a beef with Marvel? Absolutely not. I think they have become so huge and that my film is lost in the belly of the corporate beast. I want the right people at Marvel to see this film, to rescue our film, and to hopefully be inspired by my love for this character. … Write to Marvel. Tell them that you want to see this film. Tell them you want to see our Punisher on the small screen.”
I suspect this is how most fan filmmakers feel -- there's got to be a weird moment of almost euphoria at getting a cease-and-desist letter because it means the people who created the very thing you love noticed what you're doing, and it also potentially means they think it's good enough that they need to stop it. Then reality sets in and you come to realize that some giant company just wants to squash something you're doing not to make money, but to express a love of something. That part probably sucks a whole lot.
It is interesting to note that Marvel is going after Pecci's film, but was okay with Thomas Jane's unauthorized project (which almost assuredly would get more buzz than Pecci's film) from a few months back. Is this just Marvel flexing its legal muscle or what?
Check out the teaser for The Dead Can't be Distracted below and see what you think. Are you interested in seeing Pecci's full film or do you think Marvel should squash any and all unauthorized projects to protect its IP?
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