Executive producer Robert Kuhn spoke with The Austin Chronicle about the tangled legal history of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation.
Austin Chronicle: What is the status of the many lawsuits that have resulted from Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation?
Robert Kuhn: As we speak, there are no suits. What happened was that Chuck Grigson, the trustee for the owners of the original Chainsaw, had licensed the property to Kim Henkel and me to make this new film. Then, of course, we made the deal with Columbia/TriStar who, in their contract, had agreed to do a theatrical release. This was signed effective of October of 1995.
AC: So the film had actually sat around a number of years before it actually got to Columbia/TriStar?
RK: Well, yes and no. We didn't actually finish the film until 1994, when we got the post-production done. We had made the deal with Columbia/TriStar much earlier in the year. We had to satisfy a ton of different things, legally as well as actual product. In other words, we had to make all kinds of different versions of the video transfer, and all sorts of post-production stuff, all of which of course they threw in the trash because they changed the name of the film [from The Return of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre]. And then they also re-edited it in some fashion.
In any event, Columbia/TriStar entered into this contract before anybody really knew who Matthew McConaughey or Renee Zellweger -- the two leads in the picture -- really were. They had agreed to do the theatrical release and to spend no less that $500,000 on prints and advertising. Well, they actually started gearing up to do the theatrical release and even put trailers out on their video releases saying "coming to a theatre near you" in January, and then in June of 1996. Originally, they wanted to hold the film until after the release of Jerry Maguire with Renee Zellweger, which didn't seem unreasonable to us. So that came and went and nothing happened. Then they started telling us that, off the record, CAA [Creative Artists Agency], which is Matthew's agent, was putting pressure on them not to release the film theatrically. In any event, we sued Columbia/TriStar, and then ultimately decided that we were not going to be successful because the arbitration provisions in the contract were so strong. We dismissed our cases and are now preparing to file another lawsuit against CAA, for interference with our contract. That will probably be filed this week.
AC: How did the film get to CFP? Did Columbia/TriStar farm it out to them?
RK: Yes. Interestingly enough, we did a deal with CFP before Columbia/TriStar to do a test market for us. We had thought that maybe CFP would do a theatrical release, but as it turned out they weren't that impressed by the test market to agree to do that without taking all the rights. Of course, we ultimately ended up giving Columbia/TriStar that anyway, but they gave us $1.3 million, and CFP wasn't in a position to do that.
AC: End game?
RK: Well, we definitely feel that Columbia/TriStar has not done what they agreed to do in terms of trying to market this film in the best possible fashion. They have not tried to exploit this film to monetarily benefit us as they should have. They've just low-keyed it. They don't want to be guilty of exploiting Matthew because of their relationship with CAA, which is the strongest single force in Hollywood these days. You get on the wrong side of them, you're in trouble.
So I understand their problem, but at the same time, they should have either given the film back to us or they should have done the best release they could have done. And they haven't done that.
For more on the complex history of Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation, read "Any Way You Slice It," Oct. 17, 1997.