LOS ANGELES: James Bond has a new mission: dismembering Austin
New Line Cinema has been forced to stop using the title Austin Powers in
Goldmember for now and recall promotional materials for its third
installment of the spy spoof after United Artists and MGM - owners of
the Bond franchise - won a decision from the Motion Picture Association
of America (MPAA) ruling the title "inadmissible."
The dispute has been festering since last fall, when New Line began the
approval process with the MPAA. MGM has been protesting not only the
ribald satire of the film's name, but also images of Mike Myers covered
in glittery gold paint - in homage to the Bond film Goldfinger. New Line
apparently thought the MPAA decision would swing in its favor since
Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me - a takeoff of the 1977 Bond
flick, The Spy Who Love Me - was cleared for use despite protests by
However, the current battle boiled over when New Line began promoting
the film in mid-December - before the MPAA made its final decision. That
put New Line "in violation" of the titling rules, according to one
industry executive, giving MGM the high ground.
After the MPAA ruling, New Line pulled trailers from theaters, took
information off the web, and recalled thousands of posters and other
materials, a move that the Wall Street Journal estimated cost "millions"
but that studio executives say cost "far less." New Line plans to
appeal, and could even take the issue to court under "fair use"
copyright laws if they lose with the MPAA, but the title still couldn't
be promoted until a legal decision was reached. That leaves the studio
in the unenviable position of promoting their tent-pole summer feature
with the temporary name The Third Installment of Austin Powers.
That's a position MGM can appreciate: Ironically, the same week, MGM
found itself stalled in federal court for its own bit of alleged brand
infringement - the use of Universal's The Fast and the Furious in
promotions for Rollerball. The studio was similarly forced to pull ads
and promotional materials last week.