Back in July, it was confirmed that Amazon Studios, MGM and filmmaker Kevin Smith were finalizing their deal for a new Buckaroo Banzai TV show, based on the 1984 cult classic movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. Today we have word that those plans have been derailed, with Kevin Smith parting ways with the project shortly after news surfaced that MGM was suing original Buckaroo Banzai screenwriter Eric Mac Rauch and director W.D. Richter, over the rights to the project. Here's an excerpt from the lawsuit that was filed last week by MGM in a U.S. District Court.
"There is now a substantial controversy between the parties with great immediacy. MGM seeks to develop its new television series without Defendants' interference. Accordingly, Plaintiffs bring this action to seek a declaration of the rights and legal relations of the parties with regard to Buckaroo Banzai."
The Hollywood Reporter first reported on the lawsuit earlier today, which prompted Kevin Smith to respond in an 18-minute Facebook Live video, where the filmmaker revealed that he is backing out of the project. Both Eric Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter have asserted that they own the rights to the property, claims MGM denies, but while the studio wants to make the series without "interference" from the original filmmakers, Kevin Smith revealed in his Facebook Live video that he wanted to have them involved in the series.
"When I got the job, if you go back and look on my Instagram feed, I went, 'I can't wait to do this. I want to involve Earl Mac Rauch and W.D. Richter. I gave interviews where I talked about getting Earl writing a script and W.D. to direct an episode, because I was going to direct all of the episodes. Without those two dudes, I don't fall in love with that property. 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. With all due respect, this sucks. This sucks so hard, because we had script orders and stuff like that. I can't, I'm not that guy. Let me put it in terms that I perceived it as. Let's say one day that the people that own Miramax now [said], 'Hey, we want to make Clerks. 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. I wanted those dudes involved in the show. This didn't exist when we made the deal, and now it does."
Kevin Smith first revealed that this show might happen on his Hollywood Babble-On podcast, where he revealed that MGM approached him about making the show after he directed an episode of The Flash. The original movie followed the title character, played by Peter Weller, an adventurer/surgeon/rock star, who takes on evil alien invaders from the 8th dimension alongside his band of men, the Hong Kong Cavaliers. The movie also starred John Lithgow, Ellen Barkin, Jeff Goldblum and Christopher Lloyd. While it only made $6.2 million during its theatrical run, it became a cult classic in the years that followed. Here's what Kevin Smith had to say in another excerpt from his 18-minute video.
"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. 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?"
It remains to be seen how long this lawsuit will be drawn out for, or if there remains any chance that this show could actually happen now, either with or without Kevin Smith. It also isn't known if Kevin Smith had started working on the Buckaroo Banzai scripts yet before this lawsuit was filed, and before he dropped out of the project. Take a look at the filmmaker's 18-minute Facebook Live video below.