Shout! Factory acquires “Route 66” television series

Shout! Factory, a respected DVD issuer and music label, has acquired all the rights to the “Route 66” television series of the early 1960s, reported the Hollywood Reporter.

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 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.

10 thoughts on “Shout! Factory acquires “Route 66” television series

  1. Now that Shout Factory has obtained the rights to the original series, how about enlisting the commentary services of George Maharis, Martin Milner, Edward Asner, James Caan, Arthur Hiller, etal for selected episodes. And perhaps some outtakes and other information – such as how filming locations were arranged – would be good viewing, too.

    Overall, I believe that Shout! Factory will do this series justice.

  2. I am very pleased that all four years of Route 66 is finally being properly released with top notch quality. This slice of America in the sixties deserves being preserved so future generations can look back to a time with no computers, cell phones and fast food.

  3. Did Martin Milner experience some health issues? I read somewhere that George Maharis heard of illness befalling Martin Milner. Let’s hope he has or will make a complete recovery.

      1. Thank you, Ron, for that update. Ironically, I JUST saw Martin Milner in an episode of Murder She Wrote a few minutes ago!

  4. It’s just speculation on my part but I feel the death of his oldest daughter, Emily, to leukemia in 2004 probably hurt his own health. He spent a great deal of time trying to find a bone marrow donor for her without success and that would certainly bring the strongest man to his knees.

  5. Agreed. Such a tragedy would cause ANY man to lose an element of incentive and change his perception about life and what he holds dear. The wonderful thing was how Martin & his wife still fought for a way to save others in the midst of the hardship.

  6. This was the show I watched religiously as a kid (another fave was “Man From U.N.C.L.E.”), and when I first got cable in the 80’s, I revisited “Route 66” and fell back into it again. The station had taken it off, so no more kicks on Route 66 for this gal. Until now. I purchased all 24 discs from the four year run and I can’t wait to travel again with the guys. It’s summer, nothings on and I’m firing up the DVD player.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.