Despite considerable popular demand, no official home entertainment release (VHS, laserdisc or DVD) of the series has occurred to date in North America, with the situation seemingly unlikely to be resolved in the near future.
Conflicting reports of the reasons behind the non-release of the series point to a number of different factors, some, none or all of which may indeed play a part. These include:
- Disagreement between DC Comics (who own the Batman character. DC's sister/parent company Warner Bros., which took over DC in 1976 could also be involved) and 20th Century Fox (who own the program itself). Gord Lacey's influential TV/DVD website TVShowsonDVD.com is often quoted in support of this much-discussed theory, after a story the website ran in December, 2005.
- Commentators have suggested that DC Comics itself is not involved, and that Warner and Fox are reluctant to work with each other. This was denied by a Warner spokesperson in 2005 during their semi-regular "Home Theatre Forum" chat, where it was stated that the issues were between Fox and DC alone, with Warner playing no part in negotiations.
- The argument has been made that DC does not wish to distort the current image of the Dark Knight by having the overtly-campy 1960s series competing head-to-head with more modern takes, such as Burton's Batman film and its sequels or Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. DC may indeed be distancing itself from the 1960s series. A solicited cover by Mike Allred for issue #7 of Solo—a 2005 DC Comics series—featured Batman doing the Batusi. The cover, based on Adam West and a memorably campy episode of the TV series, was replaced by the time of Solo #7's released. Allred explains that the cover was pulled by "higher ups" for reasons largely unknown. Speculation over the reasons first intimated that potential infringement of rights were the issue, but this was soon replaced with suggestions that its "campy" nature was the real factor in its removal. At the time of the issue's release, DVDs of Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, and Batman Begins were also being promoted, and DC's chief editor Dan Didio reportedly does not like camp.
- Greenway/ABC/Fox rights issues. The Batman series was conceived as an equal partnership between William Dozier's Greenway Productions and Fox in 1964, before Fox entered into a separate agreement with ABC to produce the series in 1965. With three companies involved almost from the outset, there is some speculation that these rights are tangled even before the DC Comics character-ownership rights are to be considered. Moreover:
- Another Greenway Productions series, The Green Hornet is similarly absent from DVD release, (although, like Batman, the rights to theatrical features based upon the show were different, and these have been released, as has Batman: The Movie.) leading to speculation that Greenway could be the common factor, and hence in some fashion be the stumbling block.
- In 2006, Deborah Dozier Potter, "the successor-in-interest to Greenway Productions" sued Fox for allegedly withholding monies under the Fox/ABC agreement. Dozier Potter further claimed that this came to her attention when, in March 2005: "she considered releasing the series on DVD," implying that (from her perspective at least) Greenway/Dozier Potter has some say in the matter of potentional DVD release of the series. (The case was resolved/dismissed in November, 2007, as noted at the "1966 Batman Message Board".)
- Other complications/rights issues:
- Christopher D Heer, writing at the "1966 Batman Message Board", clarified a quote by moderator Lee Kirkham, noting that there will likely be the need for complicated deals regarding cameos, since "..at least some of the cameos were done as uncredited, unpaid walk-ons -- which means that Fox does NOT have home video clearances for them. Either those scenes would have to be cut or an agreement reached with the actors."
- Kirkham's initial quote also noted that, alongside music clearance issues, there could also be problems over some of the costumes, and the original Batmobile:
"It may surprise you, but then there are also rights issues concerning the design of the unique Batmobile design used in the show, and possible a separate issue regarding some of the costumes as well!"
The series, under the Fox/ABC deal, is however still in syndication, and regularly shown on a number of channels around the world. Thus far, though, only the 1966 feature film is available on DVD for non-broadcast viewing in North America. This also affected the 2003 television movie reunion Return to the Batcave: The Misadventures of Adam and Burt, which was only able to make use of footage from the 1966 movie.
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