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Ted Turner Defends Color-Tinting of Movie Classics

October 23, 1986 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Media magnate Ted Turner, whose color-tinting of vintage black-and-white motion pictures has provoked protests from filmmakers, said he is shocked by the outcry but has no plans to alter his course.

″The last time I checked, I owned the films that we’re in the process of colorizing,″ Turner said. ″I can do whatever I want with them, and if they’re going to be shown on television, they’re going to be in color.″

Turner discussed the color-tinting controversy after a speech Tuesday night at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The controversy erupted when the Turner Broadcasting System recently announced plans to color more than 100 movie classics, including ″Casablanca,″ ″The Maltese Falcon,″ ″Yankee Doodle Dandy″ and ″The Postman Always Rings Twice.″

″All I’m trying to do is protect my investment in MGM,″ said Turner, who earlier this year paid more than $1.2 billion for the studio’s 3,650-title library of movies.

Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Joe Dante, John Huston and Steven Spielberg are among the directors opposing what they call color tampering of films.

Last weekend, the Directors Guild of America said it will fight vigorously to block Turner’s color-tinting of old films. The directors also have asked the U.S. Copyright Office to investigate the legality of the process.

In addition, RKO Pictures Inc. filed suit Monday to keep its yesteryear films out of the color computer.

The American Film Institute, an independent, non-profit organization founded in 1967 to assure the preservation of the art form, announced Oct. 1 that it also opposes computer coloring.

″I’m really shocked at the fuss,″ Turner said. ″I really don’t think it makes that much difference in the end. I think editing these movies makes a hell of a lot more difference in how they look, especially when they’re chopped up by 20 or more minutes in order to fit into time slots. Why aren’t these people making a fuss about that?

″Besides, I like things in color. We see in color. Why didn’t they make ‘The Sting’ in black-and-white if they’re so concerned about historical authenticity? I don’t see their point.″

The average cost of adding color to a film is $183,000. Companies that perform the work say they are helping introduce a new generation of viewers to classic movies because black and white films are getting harder to syndicate on television and are virtually shut out of the video market.

″I’m colorizing ‘Casablanca’ just for controversy’s sake,″ Turner said. ″Once people start watching the colored version, they won’t bother with the original.″