U.S. company has plans for Ingmar Bergman catalog

Fri Jan 16, 2009 8:41pm EST
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By Steve Gorman and Alex Dobuzinskis

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rights to the complete works of Swedish film legend Ingmar Bergman, at least in the United States, now rest with the former owners of a Colorado movie theater after an eight-year legal battle with a Scandinavian media group.

To satisfy an unpaid multimillion-dollar court judgment against Svensk Filmindustri, a Colorado judge last year ordered rights to its entire movie catalog transferred to operators of the landmark Isis Theater in the ski resort of Aspen, Colorado.

The process of assigning and recording rights to Bergman's films and dozens of others with the U.S. Copyright Office was completed in late December, Isis representatives said on Friday.

Transferred so far are roughly 450 movie and television titles, including Bergman's complete film collection, among them "Cries and Whispers," "Fanny and Alexander," "Hour of the Wolf," "The Seventh Seal" and "Wild Strawberries."

Other art-house classics included are Lasse Hallstrom's "My Life as a Dog" and Bo Widerberg's "Elvira Madigan."

The move is expected to pave the way for renewed public and commercial access to Bergman's films, whose distribution was hampered for several years by the litigation over their ownership. Bergman died on July 30, 2007, at age 89.

Isis is now seeking distribution and licensing deals for his films, bringing them to a wider audience, said Denver-based lawyer Jack Smith.

"We didn't choose to go into the Swedish film business. All we chose was to collect the money that we're owed on this judgment," Smith said.   Continued...

<p>Legendary Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman attends a news conference for his film "Troloesa" in Stockholm in this May 9, 1998 file photo. REUTERS/ Gunnar Seijbold/ Scanpix</p>