Way back in May, we reported that Kevin Smith had started developing a TV show based on the cult classic film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension for MGM. That project appears to be moving forward now, as MGM has begun getting its proverbial ducks in a row by filing a lawsuit against Earl Mac Rauch and Walter Richter, the writer and director behind that original film. The issue is that MGM claims to own the Buckaroo Banzai rights, but Rauch and Richter have apparently been sending letters to the studio indicating that they own the rights, so MGM wants to get it legally cleared up before it gets invested in this whole TV show thing.
This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which says that the lawsuit claims that Rauch and Richter have been “aware” of MGM’s intention to make a Buckaroo Banzai TV show since 2008, but they didn’t start asserting that they owned the rights until 2011. MGM disagreed, and the two sides have been fighting ever since. This summer, though, the feud heated up when Rauch and Richter indicated that they would be moving forward with their own Buckaroo Banzai projects—projects MGM is concerned could hurt the viability of its TV show, which is currently being developed for Amazon.
As for Rauch and Richter’s argument, they admit that they don’t own the rights to the original Buckaroo Banzai film, but they do believe they control “the overall rights to the world of Buckaroo Banzai, all of the characters, themes, and ideas associated with that world.” Furthermore, Rauch claims that he pitched an entire Buckaroo Banzai series to MGM in 1981, but when it came time to make the movie, the studio only wanted the rights to a single story. Therefore, he believes that he owns the larger Buckaroo Banzai world.
MGM remembers it differently, of course, saying that Rauch and Richter actually signed over everything. Also, the two of them have allegedly violated a “publicity provision” by talking about MGM’s supposed lack of ownership on Facebook and in interviews. Moving forward, MGM notes that all it wants now is for the court to clarify that it owns the rights and to prevent Rauch and Richter from interfering with the show at all.