[Note: As with anything Smith does, there’s quite a bit of potentially objectionable language peppering his speech in the video, so consider yourself warned.]
It was announced in May that Clerks and Chasing Amy director Kevin Smith was developing a television series based on the wonderfully weird 1984 film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension that would serve as both a remake and sequel to the cult-classic movie. Those plans appear to have been thrown out, however, as Smith has exited the project due to a federal lawsuit over the rights to the property.
Smith announced his departure from the Buckaroo Banzai television series — which was planned as a collaboration between MGM and Amazon Studios — in a long, occasionally rambling video posted on Facebook.
According to Deadline, MGM has filed a copyright lawsuit against the original movie’s director, W.D. Richter, as well as the film’s creator and screenwriter, Earl Mac Rauch, in order to establish the legal right to make the Buckaroo Banzai television series. Previously, Smith had indicated that he was hoping to include both Richter and Rauch in the series in some capacity.
“This is not what I signed up for,” says Smith in the video, which was apparently recorded while the filmmaker was visiting family in Florida. “I was caught off guard [by the lawsuit]. I literally had no idea. It blows, man, because that’s the closest I’ve [come] to having my own show so far.
“This lawsuit comes from MGM legal — it doesn’t come from any of the people I met at MGM,” he added. “I’m no longer involved. I don’t wish anybody harm; I wish all parties well. I hope these dudes come to an agreement, and if they do and they still want me involved down the road, I’ll be here. But why would they?”
The lawsuit against Richter and Rauch was filed November 23 by MGM, and until it’s settled, the project has apparently moved into development limbo.
The original film cast Peter Weller as the titular Buckaroo Banzai, a physicist, neurosurgeon, test pilot, and rock musician who’s tasked with saving the world from an invasion by interdimensional aliens from “Planet 10.” The supporting cast includes Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, and Ellen Barkin, as well as John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd as the leaders of the alien invasion in human form.
The movie was a box-office flop but went on to become a cult-favorite film in the home entertainment market. Several spinoffs have been published in comic-book form over the years.
“Let’s say one day that the people that own (the film studio) Miramax now [said], ‘Hey, we want to make Clerks,'” explains Smith in the video. “And I’m like, ‘Well, I don’t want you to make Clerks — not while I’m alive.’ And then they sue me to make sure that they can make Clerks without me being involved. Well, what goes around comes around in life. I’m not saying anybody is wrong in this situation, but what I’m saying is — respectfully to all parties involved — I’m out.”