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Recapping Rhino’s Losses

The past six months have been pretty brutal for MSTies. We had a brand new, tenth volume of episodes from Rhino given to us, with fan favorites and rarities and extras and it was yummy and good. However, the ceiling fell in and, within two or three months of its release in August, the set was recalled with no explanation. In fact, we still haven’t recieved an explanation. Then, to add insult to injury and pour lemony saltwater into the wound, we recieved word that Rhino was losing the rights to all of Volume 1 and also to Sidehackers, on Volume 3. And now, yet again, we find that Volume 9 is running into some trouble.

So, you know what that means: Time to recap and over-analyze! I’ll leave Volume 9 out of this piece though, since we don’t actually know any of the story on that yet. Prepare to get caught-up!

Volume 10
Released: August 2006
Missing: c. October 2006
Reasons: Unknown. Rhino has yet to officially say anything either way. The most obvious possible cause is the use of Godzilla vs. Megalon. Godzilla is a hot property and Toho is very particular about how he is used. It’s possible that Rhino licensed this film from a third party distributor and Toho eventually got wind of it and called Rhino out. (That doesn’t mean Rhino intentionally did something illegal, by the way. The whole thing is kind of confusing.) Toho could’ve also been upset by either the use of his name or the image of the G-man on the outer packaging – yes, they’re that touchy. Another possible cause is the material used in the “video jukebox” extra. Footage from Werewolf and an image from Teenage Crime Wave are used in the segments, so it could be something as silly as that. And then there’s also the three other movies which could’ve been the problem. After all, there’s a chance that Godzilla had nothing to do with it. Hopefully, we’ll see non-offending episodes on another release.

Volume 1
Released: November 2002
Missing: November 2006
Reason: This is more cut-and-dry. Simply put, a source at Rhino reported that they had lost the rights to all four films in the set. I believe this was reported in or around October, and the sets started disappearing around November. There have been no reports of Rhino attempting to re-secure the rights.

Volume 3
Released: April 2003
Missing: March 2007, possibly even as early as February
Reason: At the same time that Volume 1 was reported lost, it was also reported that Rhino would be losing the rights to The Sidehackers, included on Volume 3, in March. Hopefully, once again, the two episodes Rhino does still own (the fourth disc is the second “shorts” compilation) will see the light of day in another form.

A word of warning: The following two entries fall into the category of “speculation.” They may be disappearing but, then again, they may not. But they’re rumors, so I’m serving them up for you.

The Hellcats (?)
Released: June 2002
Missing: possibly started in February 2007; unconfirmed
Reason: Okay, now, this one is not official. No word has come from Rhino about losing The Hellcats. However, a member of the MST3K community claimed that the episode should’ve been included with the rights to The Sidehackers – acquired at the same time from the same distributors, or something to that effect. So, by no means is this official. While Amazon has it in stock, Overstock.com has currently removed it from their site. Personally, though, I’m beginning to doubt the validity of this claim. You might want to pick it up, just in case.

The Wild World of Batwoman (?)
Released: January 2001
Missing: started in Winter 2006/2007; unconfirmed
Reason: Once again, Rhino has not confirmed this one. However, DeepDiscount does not list it on their site (it was removed a few months ago) and now DVDPlanet lists it as out-of-stock. The only thing casting doubt on this rumor is that both Amazon and Overstock list it as being in-stock. Keep an eye on this one.

In conclusion, yeah, it sucks. I suppose we can’t expect them to hold onto the rights to an episode forever, with the exception of the Public Domain films. (Incidentally, there are quite a few Public Domain episodes that Rhino has yet to release.) It costs money to maintain ownership, and Rhino can only be expected to put out the money for as long as it’s going to turn a sufficient profit for them. The only thing that can really be said is, Do your damnedest to buy every episode as soon as they’re released. As ol’ Godzilla has taught us, nothing is for certain and, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. And the early bird gets the worm. And a bird in the hand is… something…

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