MGM Files Suit Against BUCKAROO BANZAI Writer/Director Team Over TV Rights


MGM has filed suit in U.S. District Court in California seeking a ruling as to who owns the television rights to the 1984 cult classic film The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai: Across The Eighth Dimension.

As we reported here last month, the film’s director W. D. Richter and the screenwriter Earl Mach Rauch have asserted that they retain the rights to all the characters due to a standard clause that was missing in the original contract hiring Rauch to write the screenplay for the film. The pair argue that since much of the story material for The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai was developed prior to being pitched to any studio, MGM and producer and then-studio head David Begelman should have acquired the underlying literary rights to that material.

MGM, for their part, have rejected that claim and in their suit filed last Wednesday state –

MGM seeks to develop its new television series without Defendants’ interference. Accordingly, Plaintiffs bring this action to seek a declaration of the rights and legal relations of the parties with regard to Buckaroo Banzai.

You can read the entire court filing here. (And FilmBuffOnline gets a mention on page 16.)

MGM has been in development on a Buckaroo Banzai TV series for Amazon, with filmmaker Kevin Smith at the helm. For his part, Smith took take Facebook after the news broke to state that he knew nothing of the pending suit. “This is the first that I’ve heard about this,” he stated at approximately the 4:15 mark of a Facebook Live video he broadcast today.

Now I have to express a bit of disappointment in his initial statement as we attempted to reach out to his production for a comment when we ran our original story in October.

Expressing regret that the lawsuit was happening and since that it appeared that MGM wanted to freeze Richter and Rauch out of the new project, Smith stated that he was dropping out of the project.

The only reason I love Buckaroo Banzai is because of those two guys… That’s why I fell in love with that movie when I saw it in 1984. It was magical because there was nothing else like it. That work came from the vision of those two men. And when I got the job, if you go back and look at my Instagram feed, I was like “I want to involve Earl Mach Rauch and W. D. Richter… Without those two dudes, I don’t fall in love with that property… I don’t want to make anything unless those two dudes are involved.They had the vision. All we’re doing is taking their amazing vision and making a TV show of it. With all due respect, this sucks. Oh my gosh this sucks so hard.

Via Hollywood Reporter.

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About Rich Drees 7210 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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