Last month, we reported that Josh Goldbloom and Music Box Theater are parting ways over the Cinepocalypse Film Festival. Goldbloom specifically took issue with Music Box continuing to use the name ‘Cinepocaylpse’ without his participation. While Goldbloom refers to himself as its ‘founder,’ Music Box takes specific issue with that characterization. Further, as we reported, Music Box has filed for trademark protection, yet another point of consternation with Goldbloom.
This past weekend, Goldbloom triumphantly announced via Twitter that “Film submissions have been shut down indefinitely” for the Music Box-run Cinepocalypse festival. This appears to be confirmed, as a visit to https://filmfreeway.com/CinepocalypseFestival results in a re-direct to the homepage, along with a banner that reads “ALERT That festival is currently unavailable.” Without access to Film Freeway’s network of over one million filmmakers, the Music Box team may struggle to program a festival.
Goldbloom confirmed that his tweet specifically referenced Film Freeway’s refusal to accept submissions for Cinepocalypse, and a representative of Film Freeway confirmed to Modern Horrors that they have “been advised not to accept submissions for this event under this brand name until this dispute has been resolved.” We have reached out to Music Box Theater for a comment and will update this story if and when any statement is received.
On the origins of Cinepocalypse, Music Box offers a much different story. According to a statement on their twitter account, Goldbloom approached them about “moving BCHFF [Bruce Campbell Horror Film Festival] to the Music Box.” Music Box maintains that they subsequently “hired” Goldbloom to launch the festival that became known as Cinepocalypse after he informed them that he would be “unable” to move BCHFF. (UPDATE 02/04/2020 9:35 AM: This statement is contradicted by Music Box’s own press release from 2017, which describes Cinepocalypse as “previously the Bruce Campbell Horror Festival.”) In other communications to Modern Horrors, Music Box indicated that it views itself as a “producer and presenter,” rather than merely a “host.”
However, Music Box has yet to claim that someone other than Goldbloom came up with the name ‘Cinepocalypse.’ In addition, Music Box may have more than just Film Freeway’s decision working against them as genre filmmakers publicly come to Goldbloom’s defense. Scott Weinberg (Found Footage 3D), in response to news of the trademark application, tweeted, “Fuck these greedy, ungrateful assholes.” Meanwhile, Joe Carnahan (Narc, The Grey) took things a step further. The Bad Boys For Life screenwriter said, “I will go out of my way to make sure that @musicboxtheater doesn’t get films or filmmakers after hijacking @cinepocalypse’s festival with this chickenshit move.”
In past years, Cinepocalypse hosted world premieres for films like The Domestics, Boogeyman Pop, and Verotika. In addition, Goldbloom’s involvement may spell trouble for Music Box’s attempt to trademark the name ‘Cinepocalypse.’ Noting the date of the application (just days after his dismissal in September), Goldbloom calls it “a giant middle finger.” If Film Freeway will require resolution of brand name ownership prior to accepting film submissions, then Music Box will need to re-brand or convince Goldbloom to come to the bargaining table.
Earlier this month, Goldbloom publicized details of a settlement offer purportedly extended to him by representatives of Music Box via Twitter. According to the excerpts released by Goldbloom, the agreement would require him to direct all communications related to the 2020 festival to Music Box’s management team, ‘cease and desist from causing …. interference,’ and give up any claims he might have to the name Cinepocalypse. In exchange, Music Box offered to pay him $750 in exchange for giving up any IP rights, and $175/mo from December 2019 through May 2020 followed by an additional $500 at the end of June in exchange for assisting with 2020 festival programming communications. (If your math is rusty, this adds up to $2300 in total.)
When reached for comment about the settlement offer, Music Box neither confirmed nor denied that the excerpts published by Goldbloom are accurate. Instead, they only provided the following statement: The Music Box Theatre does not wish to make any further comment to the press at this time, and maintains a reluctance to discuss these matters on social media, as Josh has so willingly decided to perform, and instead leave the issues to be dealt with through private channels. We are disheartened to see the hard work and passion of the many staff and volunteers that have been a part of Cinepocalypse and Music Box over the years be publicly disgraced as a consequence and do not wish to contribute.
Goldbloom also declined to comment further. However, his aforementioned tweet also published an e-mail in response to the offer, presumably to his attorney, that simply reads: “LOL. Tell them to fuck off.” Captioning off his post, he writes: “The man being the man. This is what it looks like when a company tries to settle and shut you up, but still needs your help, contacts, sponsorships, and programming consultation. For $2750. Not guaranteed. Fuck off.” It’s unclear where Goldbloom arrived at the $2750 figure, but as pointed out above, he has only publicized portions of Music Box’s offer. It’s possible there are additional sums provided in exchange for other services or assurances.
UPDATE #2 02/04/2020 9:45 PM: Cinepocalypse has re-branded (sort of) and is up and running with a new Film Freeway page. While the fest is tentatively re-named the “Music Box Genre Film Festival,” website and social media links still bear the Cinepocalypse name.
Stay tuned to Modern Horrors as we continue to follow this story.