Mike White has pulled the plug on SuperHappyFun, the great grey market movie site crouched under the dubious protection of the Berne Act with bootleg offerings of the obscure, the commercially undesirable, the unavailable and the out of print. He eulogizes:
In actuality, I loved that the titles on SuperHappyFun were being ousted by legitimate release. My dream is that all of the two thousand films we once carried would be as easy to get as the latest hot release. I want a world where the grey market isn’t necessary; where all movies are available via a massive movie server where they could be viewed in their original aspect ratio with their original running time with any/all languages available as audio tracks and/or subtitles. Keep dreaming, I know.
Things got weird a few times when I got cease & desist orders. Matthew Barney’s lawyers were not happy about me selling copies of Cremaster when the “artist” could fetch a few hundred grand for copies (no lie). David Lynch’s people didn’t like that the Rabbits webseries showed up on my site (though they didn’t mention the Mulholland Drive TV Pilot — the video that really started the whole business. Remarkably, I never heard from George Lucas’s legal team even with multiple fan edits of The Phantom Menace prominent on the site (the other film that pushed me over the edge, along with Jim Morrison’s HWY).
Back in Cinema Scope #21, Jonathan Rosenbaum sang the praises of the site, concluding that “speaking as someone who enthusiastically aspires to economic incorrectness whenever it’s legal, I can only hope this cheerful enterprise can stay in business–especially if one considers that at least half of the titles I recently purchased from this source are extremely unlikely to ever come out on commercial labels.”
[Photo: The late SuperHappyFun.com]
+ Confessions of a Bootlegger (Impossible Funky)
+ Global Discoveries on DVD: Ambiguous Legalities, Gambles, Lucky Breaks, and Box Sets (Cinema Scope)