Alex Cox Versus Universal: Fight!

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Yesterday in Page 2 I mentioned that the title of Universal’s Repossession Mambo had been changed to Repo Men, and wondered if fans of Alex Cox‘s awesome Repo Man might be a little irritated. Being in a bit of a rush to put that page together, I didn’t think about how Alex Cox might feel. And the answer is: a little peeved. See, Cox has a new film called Repo Chick that could be hitting soon, and he’s faced a threat from Universal over the title and script. Now that the studio has retitled their film to sound like a sequel to his, things could get nasty.

Here’s the basic rundown. Repossession Mambo, with Jude Law and Forest Whitaker, was shot early last year (not ‘two years ago’ as Cox claims) and has been slated for release later this year. But Universal owns Repo Man and sent Alex Cox a cease and desist letter when he started work on Repo Chick, claiming that he was making an ‘illegal sequel’. (Supposedly the film isn’t a sequel, as it has different characters and settings.) Cox ignored that missive and went about his business. Cox’s film is set to premiere at the Venice film fest this fall, and the obvious supposition is that Universal has retitled Repossession Mambo as a punitive measure. But why take my word for it, when Cox’s version is so entertaining. In a blog post called Repo Men? Please… Cox says:

If studio goons had any brains, they’d buy REPO CHICK and market the bijaziz out of it as if it were a sequal to REPO MAN. It isn’t really; it’s a story of different characters in a different world: but truth never gets in the way of the marketing department, whether it’s pixels or Prozac. That I understand.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the e-mail Jon Davison sent me today: an article reporting that “Universal’s embattled execs” were putting their big hairy monster picture on hold, and rushing out a film called REPO MEN.

What?

REPO MEN is definitely not a sequal to my film. I still have a contract with these guys and – if they ever want to make a film based on my original work – they have to ask me to direct it. What fun that would be! But it seems The Studio has, among its souvenirs, a Jude Law thriller called THE REPOSSESSION MAMBO, shot in Canada, almost two years ago. I’m sure this is an excellent film, which Universal accidentally forgot to distribute, and now are passing off, in their innocence, as the new REPO MAN. Only a cynical person might see any attempt to catch the upward draft of REPO CHICK, and give loft to a turkey.

REPO CHICK ain’t REPO MAN, or REPO MEN. These MEN have nothing to do with me. For shame!

Go, go Alex Cox. You’ve got to love the guy, always willing to scrap with the studios. I really hope Repo Chick is good. I don’t know exactly when Repo Man became one of my very favorite films, but it isn’t getting knocked off the high country of my favorite list any time soon.

[via Spout]

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