Toymaker Hasbro and Hollywood’s guilds are in play together on a new board game that could hand the Motion Picture & Television Fund $4 million if the game is a hit.
SAG has agreed to a unique pact with Hasbro and the Motion Picture & Television Fund that would allow the toymaker to include clips of hundreds of actors from a range of Hollywood fare for “Shout!,” a DVD quizshow game.
Under the pact, approved Wednesday by SAG’s waiver committee on a 9-4 vote, guild members included in the game will be given the option of choosing a 2% royalty or donating the funds to the Motion Picture & Television Fund. The MPTF’s contract with SAG and Hasbro provides a $1 million advance to the foundation, with as much as $4 million in proceeds to the fund if the quizzer clicks with buyers.
Game, which hits stores this fall, is similar to Mattel’s “Scene It” DVD game, which went on sale last year and features hundreds of movie clips and celebrities.
Half a dozen “Shout!” DVDs — each consisting of more than 100 clips — are in development. All clips are being licensed gratis from the MPTF, which has been designated the sole copyright owner and will receive a 12% royalty payment.
The MPTF has also been seeking waivers from the DGA and WGA.
Each “Shout!” DVD will contain three separate 40-minute games, with 25% of the clips audio-only, 25% single film frames displayed for up to 10 seconds and the rest complete clips of five to 10 seconds.
Proponents of the deal asserted the MPTF should be granted a waiver because of benefits derived by SAG members from the MPTF’s hospitals, clinics and retirement homes.
Benefits to members
“We granted this waiver to take care of our own,” Gilbert said in a news release issued Wednesday. “Each year, tens of thousands of SAG members are cared for by the services provided by the Motion Picture & Television Fund. In the long tradition of SAG support for its community, this waiver will ensure that the fund can continue to provide the best services possible for our members, while also ensuring that our members whose likenesses are used in the game have a stake in the proceeds.”
Guild said the fund expects 120,000 visits to its patient health centers in the Los Angeles area, with SAG members repping an estimated 20% of patients. It also said of the roughly 4,000 people who took advantage of the fund’s free counseling services last year, an estimated 35% were members of SAG.
But opponents contend the waiver should not have been granted since it doesn’t allow actors to opt out of having their clips included or allow performers to negotiate a rate above the 2% royalty, as they were allowed to with “Scene It.”
“SAG members should be able to either withhold their image from a game or negotiate a better deal on their own,” said committee member David Jolliffe, who voted against the waiver along with Jeff Austin, George Coe and Anne-Marie Johnson. “The ability to control the exploitation of an image is a fundamental right of SAG members. If a performer dislikes a particular scene, he or she should be allowed to keep it out of the game.”
Asking everyone impossible
SAG spokesman Seth Oster said it’s impossible for the guild to query members as to whether they want to opt out of the agreement because of the time and expense involved. “This is a question of the greater good of the guild being served,” he added.
Oster noted SAG will occasionally grant similar waivers for causes it deems worthy, such as the inclusion of clips in the American Film Institute’s 100 best films programs.
The opponents also warned the waiver could expose SAG to lawsuits for possible violations of the Astaire Celebrity Image Protection Act, which provides celebrity heirs with the ability to prevent unauthorized commercial use of a celebrity’s identity, likeness, voice or signature. But Oster said SAG officials have concluded the agreement doesn’t violate the Astaire law because the performances are covered by the collective bargaining agreement.