“One of the exciting things about my job is seeing when star-driven but relatively unknown titles that we’ve acquired are released,” said Jesse Baritz, vice president of acquisition and development. at Multicom, based in Los Angeles. “Many of the titles we take have not been seen in decades, so it took a lot of work for the Multicom team to take the assets and make them distributable.”
Baritz further explained that “In the eight or so years that I’ve worked here, we’ve acquired a ton of Movies of the Week (MOWs) that have aired on major US TV networks, but haven’t never been digitized or streamed since. To date, we’ve released 100 TV movies that aired on ABC, CBS, or NBC in the 1980s and 1990s, and so far we’ve restored and re-released 39 of them in 4K!
Baritz added: “I curated new collections on TheArchive [Multicom’s AVod platform] to draw attention to these fantastic films. They feature over 50 film and television actors of the era, including Helen Hunt, Brooke Shields, Michael J. Fox, David Hasselhoff, Martin Sheen, Christopher Reeve, Hugh Grant, Julie Andrews, Ann Margaret, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Angela Lansbury, and more.
The restoration was done in-house. Baritz explained, “Our company’s media archivists catalog, clean and digitize 35mm reels and provide our operations team and editors with raw digital assets for color correction, quality control and delivery to our licensees and partners.” He noted that it takes about a week to restore a 90-minute feature film, but he did not disclose the cost, stating that “Multicom owns the equipment and facilities, and employs the staff, so there is , of course, internal costs that come with it, but we rarely use external services and only rarely incur additional costs for restoration.
However, by reaching out to other restoration experts, Video age was informed that the conversion to 4K costs between $3,600 and $4,500 per movie if done, for example, in India. But, they added, if it involves significant color corrections, it could cost more. Other estimates pointed out that the quality bar for restoration/remastering for streaming platforms has lowered prices somewhat. A rough benchmark for a 4K scan of film with moderate restoration and moderate color correction is $800/minute. Specifically, MTI Film co-developed a proprietary algorithm with Samsung that won a number of comparisons with US studios. From an SD tape source, a benchmark price to HD would be $100/minute including color correction.
Regarding the exploitation of restored film and television content, Baritz explained, “TheArchive.tv is one of the platforms on which all of Multicom’s available content is placed. [In addition,] our restored content is licensed to buyers across the spectrum of television, home video and digital platforms. As for licensing options, Baritz said “every deal is different. Some are cash, some are rev-share, and there is no standard term. It depends on who the potential licensee is, what territory they operate in, the rights requested, exclusivity or non-exclusivity, and other terms.
Another topic Baritz did not want to address was the copyright status of films restored from the public domain, stating that “Multicom does not generally restore public domain content. The titles [for this] article are all copyrighted, and the restored versions are all copyrighted.
Pictured above, Jesse Baritz next to a poster of the restoration Death of a Cheerleaderaired on NBC in 1994.
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