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Kevin Smith Says He's "No Longer Involved" In 'Buckaroo Banzai' TV Series
There hasn't been a single ruling in MGM's copyright lawsuit for a Buckaroo Banzai TV series, but there's already two clear casualties: Kevin Smith and the show itself, at least for now. After the studio filed legal paperwork November 23 against the 1984 movie's director W.D. Richter and writer Earl Mac Rauch, the Clerks creator went online today to declare "I'm no longer involved" with the proposed Amazon TV series version.
"This is not what I signed up for," Smith said of the legal issues while praising MGM in other respects (watch the video below). "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."
Additionally, Deadline has learned that with this pronouncement by Smith and MGM's moves in the courts, the project is in limbo at Amazon until the legal matters are resolved. When contacted by Deadline, Amazon had no comment on the series or the lawsuit. As Deadline revealed during Comic-Con this summer, Amazon and MGM had locked a deal for a Smith run Buckaroo TV series intended to debut in 2017.
That's all just paper now, it seems.
In his 18-minute-plus assertion on Facebook Live from Florida this afternoon, Smith said he was floored by The Adventures Of Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension pic when he saw it as a teenager and wanted Richter and Rauch to work on his series project. "Without those two dudes, I don't fall in love with that property," he said. "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."
Later in the video, Smith says: "I'm no longer involved. I don't wish anybody harm; I wish all parties well. 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?"
Noting that the legal action was "news to me," Smith said, "This lawsuit comes from MGM legal - it doesn't come from any of the people I met at MGM."
He compared the situation to having someone want to remake one of his old movies against his wishes.
"Let's say one day that the people that own Miramax now [said], 'Hey, we want to make Clerks,' " Smith says in the clip. "And I'm like, 'Well, I don't want you to make Clerks - not while I'm alive.' And then they sue me to make sure that they can make Clerks without me being involved. Well, what goes around comes around in life. I'm not saying anybody is wrong in this situation, but what I'm saying is — respectfully to all parties involved - I'm out."
You can see Kevin Smith discuss leaving the Buckaroo Banzai TV show here.
July 29th, 2016
On July 29th, Kevin discussed the proposed TV series with the SuperHeroHype website (http://www.superherohype.com/news/379443-kevin-smith-talks-his-buckaroo-banzai-series-director-wishlist#WO00lspBBMYjEKyX.01)
Kevin Smith Talks His Buckaroo Banzai Series Director Wishlist
In May, filmmaker Kevin Smith revealed that he's developing a television version of the cult classic MGM film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. ComingSoon.net had the chance to catch up with Smith at Fantasia Fest for the Canadian Premiere of Yoga Hosers to talk to him 1-on-1, and he revealed some of his ambitious plans for the Buckaroo Banzai series. Check back this week for our full Kevin Smith interview!
"With 'Buckaroo Banzai' we get to tell the whole movie in ten episodes, so you get to expand some things" Smith told us. "We're gonna take a lot of stuff from Earl Mac Rauch's brilliant novelization book of 'Buckaroo Banzai' that included Hanoi Xan, his arch nemesis, who we want Peter Weller to play. We'll layer that in, but also moments like... In 'Buckaroo Banzai they're all standing around talking about when the aliens came during the night of the 'War of the Worlds' broadcast. It's people trading information, saying it out loud. We're gonna do a whole episode about that night and them approaching Orson Welles and all that. Moments where you're like, 'Wow, that's a cool concept' you get to expand and play with a little bit."
Smith also revealed his wishlist of directors he wants to helm episodes of the Buckaroo Banzai series once it heads into production, a list that includes some genre heavyweights.
"The big fun for me is going to be collecting the team, 'cause I ain't gonna direct it all," Smith continued. "I wanna get the people who loved it as much as me, so people like Richard Kelly, Edgar Wright, I'm gonna reach out to Quentin Tarantino, see if they'll direct an episode. 'Here's a chunk of change, a 50-page script, eight days... go make your section. That'd be fun. It also means I won't take all the heat myself. (laughs) 'Quentin was here, he didn't f*ck it up!'"
The original film was released in 1984 and featured an all-star ensemble cast, including John Lithgow, Clancy Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Christopher Lloyd, and of course Peter Weller as the title character, who is described by one of the characters in the film as thinking "he's Einstein, James Bond and Batman all rolled into one!" A box office bomb at the time of its release, the film has gone on to become a cult favorite with several spin-offs comics and sequel talk coming out over the years.
"(It's) one of my favorite movies in the world and largely responsible for the weird s--- that I make, because that movie was supposed to be one thing but it did it in another way. It just did it very off-center," Smith said previously. "Basically, you just do the entire movie for season one, and then season two you finally do the sequel we've all dreamed about,: Buckaroo Banzai Versus the World Crime League."
June 21st, 2016
On June 21st, Kevin posted the following on his Instagram account (https://www.instagram.com/p/BG7jOYqRy16/):
"There can be only one!" At @edfilmfest, I ran into #ClancyBrown - The Kurgan from #Highlander, the best Lex Luthor we've ever had, and of course, Rawhide from #BuckarooBanzai. Clancy's word of warning regarding the Buckaroo series we're working on: "Don't fuck up our movie." I assured him I wouldn't and that he can see to that personally by being with us on the show. It was awesome to meet him because he's such a big part of the Buckaroo reboot. I've been thinking about the guy a ton as we break story and here he is in #Edinburgh celebrating 30 years of Highlander. If all goes well, in a few months, I'll see Clancy again on set! #KevinSmith #edinburghcastle #edinburghfilmfestival"
June 10th, 2016
On June 10th, Kevin posted the following on his twitter account (https://twitter.com/ThatKevinSmith/status/741323997242101761):
"MGMtv & I pitched #BuckarooBanzai yesterday The result? 3 serious suitors! So looks like WE'RE GONNA BE MAKING THE SHOW! AHHHH #TeamBanzai"
Also on June 10th, the following information about Kevin Smith selling the Buckaroo Banzai TV series was posted:
Kevin Smith confirms Mallrats 2 will be a 10-episode TV series. He also reveals that MGM has found a home for the Buckaroo Banzai series.
BY MICHAEL ROFFMAN on June 10, 2016, 11:03AM
It’s been over a year since we’ve heard some legitimate news from Kevin Smith about Mallrats 2. Last May, the veteran filmmaker and certified nut bar confirmed that the long gestating sequel would be titled Mallbrats, that 18 familiar faces would return alongside six fresh, new characters, and that shooting would start later in 2015 for a 2016 release.
Instead, this happened: Yoga Hosers
But, there’s a reason for the delay. This morning, Smith stopped by 93.3 WMMR for an appearance on Preston & Steve, where he digressed on Mallbrats, explaining why the project’s been in limbo and how it’s going to finally come into fruition. Long story short, it’s experienced all sorts of legal mumbo jumbo with Universal, but here’s the long story straight from the moose’s jaw:
“I called my agency and I said, ‘Hey man, can I just make a Mallrats sequel? Universal owns it, but do I really need to make this with Universal? Can’t I just write a script and buy the title from them?’ And the agent told me, ‘Yeah, absolutely, they’ll let it go.’ And I said, ‘Are you positive? Because I don’t want to start this if that’s not the case.’ He says, ‘Oh yeah, there are three ways you can make this movie: You finance it yourself; you finance it with the studio, co-financed; or they finance it, but, you know, it’ll probably be, since it’s an old movie and it’s a small title, it’ll probably be you financing it yourself.’
“So, I was like, ‘Oh my god, alright, right on, that’s what I like to hear, nobody can stop me from self-expressing.’ So I wrote my script, put everything together, and then I told my agent, when I was done, ‘Alright, I’m ready to go, do we have to reach out to Universal for approval or something or let them pass or whatever?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, we have to submit the script.’ And I was like, ‘Why do we have to submit the script?’ ‘Because they own the property and it’s a formality … it’s going to be fine.’
“And so we submitted the script and my agent comes back to me and he goes, ‘Well, apparently Universal has never let a catalogue title go, any title they own, they’ve retained, they’ve never done something where they’re like, ‘Oh, you can take it back and go make a sequel. Never in the history of the studio.’ So, I was like, ‘Wait, but you told me that was one of my options.’ ‘Well, apparently I was wrong. So, right now there are two options: you make it fully studio financed or you co-finance it with the studio.’ So we entered a protracted negotiation with Universal trying to get it made in different pockets of the studio.”
After realizing he hadn’t told anybody about this, he confirmed, “It is happening. It’s taking us a longer time to build it, but what we did was reconfigured it. You know, Mallards is a 20 year old movie, and the idea of sexualizing a 20-year-old movie to some people is like, ‘Why would you bother? It wasn’t successful the first time. What’d you guys make?’ We’re like, ‘Two million?’ ‘Alright, well, I don’t know if the world is screaming out for this.’ However, I went and directed an episode of The Flash, and when I went up there, it was kind of a weird game changer for my career. I felt at home in the medium.
“And suddenly because I did the episode of The Flash, like MGM reached out about Buckaroo Banzai and suddenly that came together and we went out and pitched yesterday and found a home for it. I can’t say who it is because that deal is not final, but yesterday we sold Buckaroo Banzai as a TV series. So, while I’m in that world and space, a couple months ago, we started reconfiguring the idea of doing Mallrats not as a film but as a series, and Universal and I are just about to close our deal to do Mallrats the series. Then we take it out into the world and find a home for it. So, instead of doing a Mallrats movie, I’m going to do 10 episodes of a Mallrats series.”
After dropping those major bombshells, he further confirmed that he still plans to shoot the series in Exton, PA, specifically at the Exton Square Mall, as he previously announced last year. So, to recap: Both Mallrats and Buckaroo Banzai are coming to our small screen in the near, near future and we all have Kevin Smith to blame. Not too shabby.
Don’t forget, Yoga Hosers hits theaters on July 29th.
This page was last updated on December 27th, 2016.
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