Kevin Smith has dropped out of Amazon’s Buckaroo Banzai TV series, following a legal challenge from MGM over the rights to make it.
MGM launched a lawsuit against Earl Mac Rauch and Walter Richter, the writer and director of the 1984 film, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, last week, continuing a long-running debate over who has the rights to make a new Buckaroo Banzai movie or show. MGM and Amazon Studios revealed plans to do so earlier this year, with Kevin Smith on board to head up the project.
“Rauch and Richter ‘have now asserted in multiple letters to Plaintiffs that they, not Plaintiffs, supposedly own the exclusive right to produce and distribute a Buckaroo Banzai television series,'”, THR quotes MGM’s lawsuit as saying. “‘There is now a substantial controversy between the parties with great immediacy. 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.'”
The actual rights to the project, though, are reportedly hard to trace, more than three decades after the film was first released, with plans for a sequel never taking shape.
There has been no ruling yet, but Kevin Smith has posted a Facebook video announcing that he is “no longer involved” with the show.
“This is not what I signed up for,” he said. “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.”
“Without those two dudes, I don’t fall in love with that property,” he commented. “I don’t want to make anything unless those two dudes are involved. They had the vision. Like, all we’re doing is taking their amazing vision and making a TV show of it.”
“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?” he added.
Amazon is reportedly in talks to acquire Kevin Smith’s TV version of The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.
The streaming service, which is expanding its line-up of originals and exclusives at an accelerating pace, is in talks with MGM to snap up the director’s adaptation of the cult sci-fi flick. Released in 1984, W. D. Richter’s action adventure follows rock musician Buckaroo Banzai and his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers, as they take on evil alien invaders from the titular eighth dimension.
Deadline reports the negotiations ahead of Kevin Smith’s appearance at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend. Smith has the premiere of his Comic-Con-themed show, Geeking Out, on Sunday, which he co-hosts with Greg Grunberg. Amazon is no stranger to the Con either, having hosted its own panel for The Man in the High Castle on Thursday – you can see the trailer unveiled then for Season 2 here. The site has its own downtown “village” at the event too. A deal for Buckaroo Banzai would add clout to its Comic-Con street cred among the geek and film fan attendees.
Smith, meanwhile, has already said he’s like to have original star of the film Peter Weller cameo in the series, alongside cast members John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, and Jeff Goldblum. Deadline also notes that Smith would take the opportunity to start afresh with the film’s plot, so that a second season, if commissioned, would be able to venture to new places.
Amazon, meanwhile, has just announced its latest line-up of original TV pilots, include The Tick, starring Peter Serafinowicz, I Love Dick, starring Kevin Bacon, and Jean Claude Van Johnson, starring Jean Claude Van Damme. Read more about those here.
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