MGM Sues ‘Buckaroo Banzai’ Filmmakers Over TV Rights

Erik Pedersen
Deadline

It’s not a great interdimensional breakthrough, but MGM is taking legal steps to ensure it has rights to make a TV version of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. The 1984 cult pic about a rock star/surgeon and his Hong Kong Cavaliers battling an alien invasion was written by Earl Mac Rauch and directed by Walter D. Richter, and both of them claim to have rights to a television remake. MGM begs to differ.

“There is now a substantial controversy between the parties with great immediacy,” MGM says in its 26-page lawsuit, filed late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in California (read it here). “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.”

Kevin Smith is behind the TV remake of Buckaroo Banzai, which Amazon said in the summer it plans to bring to small screens in 2017. The filmmaker says the series has been in the works since MGM contacted him after he directed two episodes of the CW’s The Flash last season. The film starred Peter Weller as the titular multi-talented Dr. Buckaroo Banzai. The cast also included Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow and Christopher Lloyd.

Plaintiffs MGM Television, Orion Pictures Corp and PFE Library Acquisition Company are seeking declaratory judgment of copyright ownership and say the defendants’ ownership claims should be barred by the statute of limitations. Attorneys Robert H. Rotstein, Elaine K. Kim of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP in Los Angeles are representing the plaintiffs.

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