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‘Platoon’ Video Rights Remain Tied Up in Court

November 13, 1987

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A federal judge has let stand for the time being an appeals court decision that halted the distribution of ″Platoon,″ last year’s best-picture Oscar winner, for the home videocassette market.

A temporary order prohibiting release of the ″Platoon″ video was issued by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco after a dispute over video rights erupted between the filmmaker and two video firms.

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David V. Kenyon declined to rule on the injunction, allowing the appellate court’s order to remain in effect. Lawyers predicted Kenyon would likely issue a decision on the injunction next week.

Lawyers for one of the video firms, Home Box Office, urged Kenyon to lift the injunction quickly to allow distribution of ″Platoon″ videos in time for the lucrative Christmas shopping season.

Everybody loses if ″Platoon″ videos aren’t released in time for Christmas because interest in the film will wane, said HBO attorney Alan Halkett.

″We’re dealing with a perishable commodity,″ he said.

Hemdale Film Corp., which produced ″Platoon,″ originally licensed the video rights to Vestron Inc., but a contractual dispute over the deal spilled into court in March.

After the contract dispute erupted, Hemdale signed another video deal with Home Box Office.

HBO contends Vestron breached its contract with Hemdale and so forfeited its rights to the ″Platoon″ video.

Vestron claims the film’s producers were only able to secure financial backing needed to make ″Platoon″ because Vestron guaranteed a $5 million advance to gain exclusive rights to the home video market.

Despite assurances that Vestron would recover lost revenues, Vestron attorney Robert Jossen said the money would not repair ″any potential injury to our reputation if we’re not able to deliver title.″

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