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by dr andrew cousins

George Mucus: May the courts be with you

George Mucus is almost single-handedly responsible for changing the face of American cinema. His 1977 film ‘Space War’ became the biggest grossing film of it’s time and ever since the studios have been bringing out a string of big budget, effects driven pictures in an attempt to emulate his success. Meanwhile Mucus has become a multi-millionaire, mainly due to the hugely popular line of toys based on the film. He has also overseen the production of a series of sequels to the original film - ‘Space War 5: Send In The Clones’ — the latest in the saga is released early next year.

AC: George, it’s been said that you changed the way that films are made and marketed. How does that make you feel?

GM: Well I think that it would probably have ended up happening anyway to be honest with you. I mean, at the time ‘Jaws’ had just come out and that was really the first of what we know now as an "event picture". The studios had already done the math by the time ‘Space War’ came around. The film wasn’t really marketed any differently to any other movie. James Bond had a whole load of spin-off merchandise available. The only real difference was that I kept a large percentage of the merchandise royalties for my film.

So you refute the claim that you ruined cinema?

I didn’t ruin cinema. The only people who ruined it are the guys who made bad films. There’s nothing wrong with trying to make something that’s supposed to be popular. The trouble is that some of the people making films today are just cynically churning out the same old lazy and predictable garbage. I don’t do that and I’ll sue anybody that says I do.

I was going to come to that later but since you’ve brought it up - you do like to sue people don’t you?

People have a public image of somebody who is well known. My public image is of somebody who spends all day approving toy designs to make me even more millions of dollars, calculator in one hand and my lawyer in the background drawing up law suits. Then I’m supposed to sleep on sheets made of $100 dollar bills. Well let me tell you that’s just not true.


Absolutely. My sheets are made of $50 dollar bills and I only approve toy designs in the morning. Who wants to spend all day looking at action figures?

So you do admit to suing the odd person here and there?

It’s question of keeping control over what is legally yours. For example, in ’78, Glen A Larson created a television series called ‘Battlestar Gallactica’. It contained a lot of space dogfights, aliens and cute robots. It was clearly a highly cynical rip-off of ‘Space War’. Naturally, I sued.

But ‘Space War’ itself is a rip-off of various other films.

I should warn you that my lawyer is on speed dial. I can contact him with the push of one button.

But it’s true. You just reused various ideas and plot devices from a number of sources.

I take it you’ve actually got some evidence to back up this wild and legally dubious accusation?

Well the plot and characters bear a huge resemblance to Akira Kurosawa’s film, ‘Hidden Fortress’.

I think you’ll find he actually stole those ideas from me.

But he made ‘Hidden Fortress’ in 1957.

He stole them from me retrospectively. I had the ideas first and then he stole them from me. The fact that he made his film first is immaterial. My lawyers are the best in the business.

Well what about ‘Flash Gordon’?

What about it?

Well it just seems to me that it contains a lot of space dogfights, aliens and cute robots. In fact that’s exactly the sort of thing you were accusing Glen A Larson of stealing from you.

Which he did.

So I suppose Alex Raymond, the creator of ‘Flash Gordon’ also stole his ideas from you did he? Despite writing the original comic strips back in the nineteen thirties.

He did. This sort of thing is very common. However my development and research team are working on a solution to the problem.

What sort of solution?

Well, as you know, I have a large technical team working for me who create a vast array of devices to aid the film making process. Over the years they’ve perfected all manner of special effects techniques, non-linear editing, computer graphic imaging, surround sound and high definition digital movie cameras to name but a few. Well they’ve also been working on a secret project to aid my legal team.

And what is that?

A legal team is a group of lawyers who work together. Don’t they have schools in England?

No. I meant, what is the device you’ve been working on?

It’s a chrono-perambulatory litigation device.

Right. And in English we’d call that a…?

It’s a machine that allows me to travel into the past and sue people.

I see. And how much did this cost?

Around thirty-seven million dollars. But I’ll get that all back when I sue the ass of Alex Raymond back in the thirties.

Of course you will. You also like shutting down websites don’t you?

In what way?

Well your films have an incredibly large fan following and some people have created websites devoted to them. Which you then threaten to shut down because they alledgedly misuse copyrighted images.

Yes because the copyright belongs to me. There’s a price attached to that copyright. They are depriving me of that.

But a few fan websites are hardly going to make a great deal of difference to a man with your wealth are they?

Listen pal, do you know what happens when ever a site illegally posts a picture of Lord Venom? Or C-MP the Mincing Android? Or Rik Starblaster and Princess Lovely? Well? Do you?

No. What happens?

They steal the bread right out from the mouths of my children. Would you like to see that? Would you like to steal the bread from my children’s mouths too?

No. I…

Because I can arrange that. I can get them in here right now. My people can go and bring them right in here so that you can steal the bread from their mouths. You’re as bad as that Kurosawa maggot. I just wish you’d say something libelous so I could sue you into the gutter.

Er, I think we’ll leave it there. George Mucus — thank you.

And I want copy approval on the interview.

George Mucus is currently consulting his legal team.

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