Wait: There’s Something Wrong with the Music in This Movie…

This email from Bradley popped in yesterday:

I bought a copy of Romancing the Stone from a bargain bin for $5. My wife and I thought we couldn’t go wrong for $5.

We watched it and it was…off. It took us about 30 minutes before we put our finger on it and realized the musical score had been changed. Our copy didn’t even have the title song on it. We were sure it was a bootleg.

We talked to our local movie guru who let us know that it was probably a legitimate release. One or more companies had purchased the rights to several hit movies from the eighties but in an effort to save money they didn’t buy the rights for the music. The movies were then re-scored and released with “can’t go wrong” pricing. I was reminded of the debacle that was Heavy Metal the movie with regard to no VHS release.

I also remember there being a huge issue with the music used in the original run of WKRP in Cincinnati and in the old SCTV shows, but I’d never heard of such a thing with movies. Anyone know more about this?

UPDATE: Rocknerd elaborated on the situation.

The issue: companies who had purchased the rights to 1980s movies, but without bothering to pay for the rights to the music. So they just … re-scored the movies with some extruded substitute music product!

This is actually standard practice. Other victims include When Harry Met Sally and WKRP in Cincinnati, whose DVD box buyers were not pleased.

It happens in other places, often killing a release. The 2010 video game Alan Wake ends each scene with a reasonably noteworthy piece of music — David Bowie, Nick Cave, Roy Orbison — is about to be deleted because licenses for the music have run out, and they aren’t replacing the backing with extruded substitute music product. They’re trying to relicense the music, but with no time frame.

Read more here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38569 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

6 thoughts on “Wait: There’s Something Wrong with the Music in This Movie…

  • Similar situation with Return of the Living Dead. Older VHS release has a different soundtrack than newer DVD/BluRay/Streaming versions!

  • Music licensing was also a problem in bringing House of Frightenstein to DVD/BlueRay

  • The Same with When Harry Met Sally. Recently bought it on iTunes, and the soundtrack was different in spots (no Frank Sinatra singing “It Has to be You” when Harry was running down the streets towards Sally near the end. Ruined the whole thing for me.

  • And married with Children box set, no more Frank Sinatra “Love and Marriage”

  • Same problem with Slap Shot during its VHS release – – no Maxine Nightingale.

  • Pingback: A Journal of Musical ThingsFollow Up: The Wrong Music is in My Movie - A Journal of Musical Things

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