December 12, 2014 at 7:57PM


Securing rights to remake film

My creative partner and I recently began developing a live-action mini-series based on an old Dreamworks movie. The series would not be for profit, and would be released online over a period of weeks upon completion. However, we are unsure as to how to proceed when it comes to securing rights. While the original film wasn't very successful, upon brief research, it still seems impossible that we would ever be able to afford the rights of a major film studio, assuming they would be granted at all.

Is it wise to approach the studio, anyways, with our request? Or as others have done (ex. Nightwing web series, Warner Bros/DC comics), should we develop the series regardless? We would fund the project ourselves, so we could feasibly do so without having secured the rights, though we could run the risk of being shut down mid-production.

So far, most articles have recommended we simply ditch the project entirely. Any comments appreciated.


Why not ask an entairtainment attorney what woud be the best appproach? They may have a few suggestions to what to do and what to avoid. A consulting fee may be worth your investment to get some pretty solid advice, since you are planning to get in a project like this.

December 13, 2014 at 8:54AM

Stelios Kouk

This is a question that often comes from writers - can I write a spec script based on the Colonel from The A Team, or the editor at Superman's newspaper, or based on some Japanese cartoon I loved as a kid...

The advice that usually comes from established writers/movie folks is that yes, of course you can, but don't expect to get anything off the back of it. Hollywood has hundreds of people who can work on existing IP - they want people coming up with original ideas. Who they can get to work on their existing IP...

Now for writing I can see the possible benefit in terms of practicing your craft, trying your hand at an adaptation etc. But in terms of actually producing a show or webseries, I suspect you're risking a lot of time and effort for something that will almost certainly be shut down the moment the rights holders hear about it. You say it's not for profit, but the second you put something online, it's potentially for profit, even if it's just the hosting website making a profit rather than the people who made the videos.

There are a handful of examples where people have taken this risk and it's paid off - Todd Haynes made Superstar about Karen Carpenter, using songs without permission - it kind of launched his career although the film is still banned. But personally I just don't think it's worth the effort. If you have an amazing take on some long-lost IP then you'd be better pitching that and doing it properly than going rogue and hoping that the finished thing will either slip under Dreamworks' radar or else will amaze them so much that they offer you a tonne of cash.

Just my two cents - others may feel differently.

December 14, 2014 at 2:14AM

Jon Mills

If past 50 years, you can do a remake without rights.

January 25, 2015 at 3:10AM

Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director

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