Delorean, Back to the Future
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Credit: Universal Pictures

DeLorean widow sues for Back to the Future royalties

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Apr 26, 2018, 11:11 AM EDT

It is arguably the unsung hero of the Back to the Future movie franchise, and now the creator's estate is wanting paid. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the widow of car maverick John DeLorean, creator of the namesake car, is suing Universal Pictures after alleging not to have received a “substantial payment” that the DeLorean Estate is owed from profits relating to movie merchandise.

Yes, that’s right, the 1985 sci-fi classic did not get that car for free. Well, it seems at first it did, but then, per the report, John DeLorean later made a deal with Universal after the release of Back to the Future Part II in 1989. The agreement allowed the studio to feature the car in the advertising and merchandise to promote the movies, so long as they gave DeLorean 5 percent of net profits for said merchandise and any other commercial endorsements. 

DeLorean sadly passed away at the age of 80 in 2005, and payments from the studio are alleged to have stopped at some point. His widow, Sally DeLorean, alleges in her suit that a Texas company has since illegally received money from the studio.

That Texas company is the DeLorean Motor Company (DMC), which was originally formed by John DeLorean but is no longer affiliated with his estate. THR reports that Sally previously sued them over the intellectual property rights of the iconic car in 2015.

That settlement reportedly allowed DMC to use the name “DeLorean” without further challenge from the John Delorean Estate. However, the suit did not mention the estate's original deal with Universal Pictures, and now Sally DeLorean alleges that the company has been receiving funds from Universal while the estate has not. Neither Universal nor DMC has commented on the suit, according to THR

Famously in the movie, Dr. Emmett Brown builds his time machine based on a DeLorean DMC-12 car, and the unmistakable design of the vehicle quickly earned its place in cinema history. We certainly hope that Sally DeLorean and Universal are able to come to some agreement over the dispute (seriously, if only they had a time machine to go back and hash things out the first time round).

What are your thoughts on the case? Let us know in the comments below.