‘Power Rangers’ Viral Fan Film May Be in Legal Trouble

By February 25, 2015
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The creation of fan films made by devotees of major intellectual properties has always operated in somewhat nebulous legal territory. While some organizations, like Lucasfilm (at least before the Disney buyout) and Warner Bros. have allowed the films to be made by fans of Jedi and DC Comics superheroes, other entities like Marvel and Nintendo have been less willing to see creators that have no legal rights to use their IP making a work using them, and have threatened legal action to shut them down. When a crowdfunding attempt was made for a high-quality Metroid fan film, Nintendo promptly put the kibosh on it. When another high-quality Punisher fan film called The Dead Can’t Be Distracted was about to be released, Marvel Studios did the same.

One IP that seems ripe for the creation of fan material is the “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers,” the 1993 TV series that spawned a pop-culture phenomenon throughout that decade. As fans of that show when it originally aired are now adults, it shouldn’t be too surprising that some would like to make new material based on the property, as making and distributing films has gotten easier than ever thanks to the proliferation of the internet. Adi Shankar — producer of the highly popular Punisher fan film Dirty Laundry as well as the Venom fan film “Truth in Journalism” directed by The Movie Crypt‘s Joe Lynch — has struck again with POWER/RANGERS, a very gritty reimagining of the “Power Rangers” franchise. Watch it below, but be warned: NSFW for language and violence.

Clearly, the film directed by music video helmer Joseph Kahn is extremely well-made, with top-notch visual effects, costuming, choreography, and production design. As of this writing, the video has garnered a staggering 8.1 million views on YouTube since its release on February 23rd. Apparently, though, it’s gotten the attention of some people who have the power to take it down.

According to a report from Deadline, “Power Rangers” franchise owner Haim Saban is “harassing” Kahn, demanding that the video be removed. Saban, who’s overseeing development of a new Power Rangers feature film with Lionsgate, is apparently very displeased by the video, and has already contacted one of the video’s hosts for removal, which the hosting service complied with. Kahn himself tweeted that he’s unsure about how long the video will remain on YouTube, encouraging people to “watch the s**t out of it” while they still can.

Kahn released a statement saying, “I just wanted to make Power Rangers good for once. It’s kind of a silly franchise. It was an experiment in tone; it was a challenge. I took the silliest property I could think of and tried to see if I could make it serious enough.”

Time will tell if the film is ultimately taken down. Though Kahn and Shankar may have a fair-use defense on their side, an attorney quoted in the Deadline piece says that neither Saban nor Shankar and Kahn have a legal “slam dunk” that makes one side or the other definitively right, since fan films inherently operate in a legal “grey area.”

What do you think? Is this the kind of “Power Rangers” you’d like to see? Are these filmmakers within their rights to make it, or are they using the property illegally?

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Chris Clow
As a former comics retailer at a store in the Pacific Northwest, Chris Clow is an enormous sci-fi, comics, and film geek. He is a freelance contributor, reviewer, podcaster, and overall geek to GeekNation, Batman-On-Film.com, The Huffington Post, and Movies.com. He also hosts the monthly Comics on Consoles broadcast and podcast. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.
  • JessicaKx

    that is a really cool film, I can obviously see why they may get in trouble for this, although I wish that wasn’t the way things worked with IP