For the last several years, director Kevin Smith has had a long list of potential movies and TV shows that he’s frequently mentioned as possible future projects. Sometimes they come to fruition, and sometimes they don’t, but whatever the status, Smith has long made a habit of discussing such projects on his various podcasts and live appearances.
One of those projects was a TV series adaptation of the 1984 sci-fi cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension, which Smith began talking about earlier this year. Questions were raised last month as to who actually controls the rights to the Buckaroo Banzai character, and earlier today MGM announced a lawsuit against the original film’s screenwriter and director in order to clarify the rights to continue developing the property. And if they do, it won’t involve Kevin Smith.
According to Deadline, Smith said in a Facebook Live message Monday that he is “no longer involved” with the Buckaroo Banzai project, stating that the reason he fell in love with Buckaroo Banzai in the first place was “those two guys” (director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch), and that while he had no ill will towards MGM, he wanted no part of any version of the series in which they weren’t involved. Smith said:
“This is not what I signed up for. 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.”
Amazon and MGM had reportedly been developing the series with Smith, although the greenlighting of the project had never been officially announced and it was in very early stages of development. Film Buff Online reported in early October, based on an interview with Richter, that he and Rauch, the original creator of the Buckaroo Banzai character, were disputing MGM’s contention that the studio owned the rights to the character.
The lawsuit and Smith’s withdrawal presumably means that the Banzai project in its current incarnation is on hold, barring a settlement of the litigation. These sorts of rights fee disputes have been settled in the past, provided there was enough money at stake to make it worth the while of all parties; it’s not certain that would be the case with Buckaroo Banzai, a three-decade-old cult property that wasn’t a huge hit to begin with.
Screen Rant will keep you posted on any news with the Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai revival.