The rights to “Route 66,” an Emmy-nominated and highly praised drama that co-starred Martin Milner and George Maharis, had been owned by Roxbury Entertainment since about 2000. (My interview with Maharis in 2007 can be read here.)
Roxbury released the first three seasons of “Route 66” on DVD, but to date has not reissued the fourth and final season. Roxbury also issued a “Best of Route 66” DVD of 11 episodes plucked from the series’ entire run.
The Reporter said:
Instead of simply licensing DVD rights to the hit 1960-64 TV show Route 66, it bought proprietary rights to the series, including all 116 original episodes, archived materials, worldwide home entertainment and digital rights and North American broadcast rights.
“As we are aggressively expanding our purchasing libraries of premiere television and films, this deal exemplifies the type of strategic acquisitions we plan to actively pursue,” said Shout! co-founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos in a joint statement. […]
Roxbury Entertainment and producer Kirk Hallam, who have retained trademark and TV remake and film rights, are developing a Route 66 TV series remake with Shout! Factory.
Shout! Factory’s website also included this intriguing page, where “Route 66” fans can sign up for emailed alerts about “a Route 66 project in the works.”
A news release from Shout! Factory (via TVShowsonDVD.com) also says this:
Shout! Factory plans a multi-tiered rollout of ROUTE 66on all packaged media, digital distribution via electronic-sell-through (EST), video-on-demand (VOD), subscription video-on-demand (SVOD), and North American broadcast, cable and syndication.
Even though the “Route 66” program seldom ever shot on the Mother Road, it remains a major reason the real U.S. Highway 66 became such a major part of pop culture.
A couple of observations about this development:
— Shout! Factory acquiring rights to “Route 66” is very good news indeed for fans of the program. Roxbury took some heat for a widescreen release of one reissue where the the top and bottom of the playback image was chopped. A few episodes also were criticized for subpar quality because the original film couldn’t be located at the time of remastering. Another DVD set also encountered playback problems. I’ve reviewed other Shout! Factory DVDs and music reissues over the years, and I hold utmost confidence that these quality issues won’t reoccur. And I also bet Shout! will include more extra features in the DVDs — a lack of them was another criticism of the Roxbury reissues.
— At one point, Roxbury president and CEO Kirk Hallam said his company was going to produce a feature film based on the “Route 66” television show and be shot on the real Route 66. Release date was slated for 2009, but it never came to pass. I suspect the cratering of the economy in 2008 scuttled those plans. If anything, getting a network to pick up a TV show is every bit as tough as making a movie. We’ll see whether a television series actually comes to light.