The legal situation seems confusing here.
Are you suggesting that the film was not produced by Warners, but that they
took action for copyright infringement on the grounds that the script for
this film deliberately copied elements of the narrative from that of 'The
Exorcist'? If so, in what country or countries did this action take place?
Who is the rights owner to this title? Ultimately this will be the
person/company who decides whether to carry out a re-release and they will
only do this if (i) they think they can make money out of it, and (ii) they
will not be in danger from costly legal action. Given that Warners
re-released 'The Exorcist' as recently as 1998 (in the UK these new prints
are still in distribution, as is a video release deriving from them), I
would have thought that any commercial reasoning behind the original
lawsuit might well still apply. They may have lost a case in one country,
but they might still be able to appeal and even that doesn't stop them from
starting one somewhere else.
Given that both 'Jackie Brown' and the remake of 'Shaft' performed poorly
at the box office, I wouldn't have thought that the impetus for a
high-profile rerelease of a blaxploitation title would be that grate,
especially if it could involve a legal wrangle.
Another possibility might be to try and get an arthouse or rep distributor
interested (e.g. Milestone in the US or the British Film Institute over
here), because the profit element wouldn't be such a major motivation, but
again, they could not afford to run the risk of serious legal hassle.
Dr. Leo Enticknap
Director, Northern Region Film and Television Archive
School of Arts and Media
University of Teesside
Middlesbrough TS1 3BA
Tel. +44-(0)1642 384022
Fax. +44-(0)1642 384099
Brainfryer: +44-(0)7710 417383
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite