Looks like Buck Rogers' trip to the 25th Century is going to be making a pit stop in court. Deadline Hollywood is reporting exclusively that the Buck Rogers estate, overseen by the Nowlan Family Trust, is looking to put an end to Smokehouse's George Clooney and Grant Heslov efforts at their own take on the character. Clooney and Heslov were set to executive produce, with Brian K. Vaughan penning the script, and Angry Films' Don Murphy and Susan Montford producing.
And if the cease and desist letter that was sent via mail and email to Michael Ross, Legendary Entertainment EVP of Business Affair, is any indication of what's to come then this isn't going to be pretty- or cheap. At the heart of the problem is that the letters state the rights holders to Buck Rogers are looking to finalize an agreement with David Ellison's Skydance Productions to adapt the property to various mediums. The letter from estate attorney Neville Johnson (which you can check out below) reads: "Be advised that the Buck Rogers Interests have signed an agreement with Skydance Productions LLC to produce Buck Rogers content." The letter goes on to state that Legendary and all other parties involved in the recently-announced claim abandon making claims that they have secured the rights to the property: "You are directed to advise all third parties, including any insurers, distributors, and financiers that there is no chain of title held by Legendary/Murphy."
A spokesperson for Legendary pushed back on the letter, releasing a statement that doubles-down on the company's claim that it has gone through the right steps to secure the rights. "We have secured the rights we need to proceed with our project and the company will not comment any further on these baseless claims. This same party has been claiming for years that they have rights which they do not have and have been trying to inhibit projects based on rights they do not legally control." Previously, Johnson represented director Colin Higgins' estate in a suit against Universal over unpaid home video royalties that resulted in a $26M settlement for Higgins in 2015. Johnson also represented Sylvester Stallone in his suit against Warner Bros over unpaid royalties from 1993's Demolition Man.