LOS ANGELES -- RKO Pictures has agreed to drop a lawsuit to block entertainment mogul Ted Turner from colorizing many of its classic black-and-white films, including 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' lawyers said Thursday.
RKO attorney David Gerber said the agreement, signed in U.S. District Court earlier this month, clears the way for computerized color tinting of the movie classics by Color Systems Technology Inc., a Marina del Rey company hired by Turner.
The settlement stems from the sale earlier this month of RKO Pictures to the newly formed Entertainment Acquisition Co., Gerber said. In that deal, the RKO Pictures library was sold to Turner, giving him control of the films, Gerber added.
Before the deal, Turner contended his purchase of the MGM-UA library gave him the right to colorize RKO's black-and-white films because they were included in the library, Gerber said.
In a 1986 copyright infringement suit, RKO disputed that claim, saying Turner, who controls Turner Broadcasting System, had some rights to the films but not colorization rights.
Adding color to black-and-white films has been criticized by many actors and filmmakersr. Some studios, notably MGM, are colorizing films because they feel it will enhance their audience appeal.
In its suit, RKO had tried to stop colorization of the 10 films: 'The Hunchback of Notre Dame,' 1939; 'Allegheny Uprising,' 1939; 'Tall in the Saddle,' 1944; 'Back to Bataan,' 1945; 'Badman's Territory,' 1946; 'Return of the Badman,' 1948; 'Fort Apache,' 1948; 'Mighty Joe Young,' 1949; 'Every Girl Should be Married,' 1949, and 'Big Sky,' 1952.
Attorneys for Color Systems Technology, which announced the settlement in a brief statement Thursday, could not be reached for comment.