American McGee has confirmed to VG247 that negotiations for the Alice: Otherlands film rights are done, and that all Spicy Horse has to do now is raise the funds to buy them via Kickstarter. It the studio misses its window to buy the rights to make animated shorts based on the IP, the license will go back on sale.
We reported on the Alice: Otherlands Kickstarter here. The concept was designed as a game originally, but McGee saw an opportunity to turn the pitch into a series of animated shorts and an eventual feature film when the movie rights to the IP became available. Famous directors and movie makers are said to be interested in the idea.
I decided to ask McGee for more insight into just who holds the rights currently and what the deal means for Spicy Horse. In an email to VG247 this afternoon, McGee said that the film rights to the Alice games were purchased by a group of Hollywood film producers called Collision Entertainment over 12 years ago.
Since then however, the IP has remained dormant, other than potential projects with interested partners, writers, directors and producers
"Those same producers recently approached me and offered me a first chance at purchasing the film rights before they put them on the open market," McGee told me.
"This is a kindness on their part - they could have gone straight to market and highest bidder, but they told me they think the rights belong with the creator of the property - me. I think they're right about this. I'd hate to see the rights end up in the hands of some faceless corporation or other entity with no emotional connection to the property."
On the status of the rights deal at present, McGee added, "Negotiations are done - we are sitting on a signed contract that provides a window of opportunity in which we can buy these rights for a pre-defined amount of money.
"Once the time expires, the contract also expires and the rights will go to the open market. It took us many weeks to get this deal in place. It's everything we need in order to properly exploit the property in all ways related to 'linear media' as well as physical merchandise that relates to those things we develop.
"This is an unusual situation to say the least. It's rare that rights are split like this (between game and film/linear) - much more rare that a property's creator has an opportunity to claim actual ownership of something created while employed by a corporation. I hope fans of Alice will see what a unique situation this is - and help make this campaign a success."
When I asked McGee if he could name any of the famous talent attached to the Alice: Otherlands project, he replied, "I can't speak to the directors/writers who have expressed interest. They all seem pretty cautious about protecting their names and being associated with a project like this when there's still uncertainty about our chances of success.
"As they say, failure is an orphan, success has many parents. No one's adopting our orphan, but once we've made a clear success of this campaign I'm sure we'll be able to make some interesting announcements."
At the time of writing, the Alice: Otherlands Kickstarter has made $31,986 of its $200,000 goal with 19 days to go.
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