Python stars sue to regain control of `Life of Brian'
Tuesday 10 March 1998
The film, which chronicles the adventures of an unwilling messiah called Brian, has been controversial since its release in 1978 when it was labelled blasphemous by religious groups.
Now the Python team are suing the film's distributor, Paragon, for allowing Life of Brian to be cut without their permission and for licensing the film at a rate that they say was not businesslike.
They are also bringing an action against Channel 4 for showing the film under licence from Paragon when, according to James Munby QC, representing Python, the station knew the team was unhappy with the deal.
In 1991 the film was licensed to Channel 4 by Python's former distributor Hand Made, owned by the Beatle's George Harrison, for pounds 250,000 with the agreement that it would be shown no more than twice over the following five years.
When the film was once more licensed to the station in 1996, by which time it had passed on to Paragon, it made just $100,000 (pounds 62,500) for a 30-year period. There were no limits to the number of times it could be shown and the deal applied to all forms of broadcasting, not just terrestrial television. Mr Munby said on behalf of Python:
"To grant rates of this sort in relation to a film for a period of 30 years when no one can foretell the nature of technology which may be in place down the line is little short of madness."
The High Court action came the day after the surviving Pythons - John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam - performed together for the first time in 18 years.
The sixth member of the group, Graham Chapman, who died 10 years ago, wrote much of the screenplay and starred as Brian, who in the film ends up on a cross while those around him sing "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life".
The Python team say that it is scenes such as this, and lines like: "He's not the messiah he's a very naughty boy", spoken by Brian's mum played by Terry Jones, which make the film ripe for censorship by those who even now fear it will give offence.
They accused Paragon of failing to include in licences an obligation that the film would not be cut.
The action, which is expected to last for three weeks, continues tomorrow.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
- 5 Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...