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Archive for Thursday, February 10, 2011

Southwestern College unhappy with poster for horror movie ‘The Roommate’

February 10, 2011

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— Billed as a college thriller, "The Roommate" remains a source of tension for administrators at Southwestern College upon its national theatrical release Friday.

Now showing at the Cowley Cinema 8, "The Roommate" earned $15.6 million in receipts across the country to top the box office during its debut weekend.

Some promotional posters for the Screen Gems film feature an image of the Christy Administration Building atop the 77 Steps at the college.

"Our concern is the association — the unauthorized association — of what we think is an iconic image of the college with a 'slasher' movie," said SC President Dick Merriman.

The image of Christy was used without the consent or prior knowledge of the college, and has since been replaced on the film's official Web site and in subsequent promotional material.

"We made the change to accommodate the college's concerns," said Jim Kennedy, executive vice president of global communications for Sony Pictures Entertainment, which owns Screen Gems.

Legal action has not been initiated against Sony, said Merriman.

"We've had conversations with the board and conversations with the company, but, no, we have not sued them," he said. "We just want to explore and understand our options."

Southwestern students Alex Fernandez and Nick Qualls spotted and photographed the poster as a coming attraction at a movie theater in Qualls' hometown of Coweta, Okla., while on Thanksgiving break.

Fernandez then shared it on Facebook, and the image proliferated across the social network from there, coming to the attention of the SC administration and prompting Merriman to investigate the legality of its usage.

According to Kennedy, the photo of Christy was licensed from iStockPhoto, an online supplier of royalty-free content based in Calgary, Alberta.

The image of Christy, listed as "College building in Kansas," has since been removed from iStockPhoto's Web site.

"I don't know when or why it was taken down," an agent for the company said Monday. "I assume it was client enforcement. The contributors own the rights, but anytime there's a photo of an iconic building, a permit must be signed. It's just like when a live model is used."

The poster on display outside Cowley Cinema 8 includes the image of Christy.

"There's about a three-month lag before we spoke up," Merriman said. "Some posters continue to have our image on it, and, with the Internet, these things tend to live forever. We're monitoring it. That's about all I can say at this point."

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