Trouble is brewing in the 25th century. Just recently, it was announced that George Clooney, Grant Heslov, Brian K. Vaughn, Don Murphy, and Susan Montford, along with Legendary Entertainment, were joining forces for a limited TV series based on iconic sci-fi character Buck Rogers.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, we now know that it's not the only project based on the beloved pulp hero currently gaining momentum in Hollywood. Indeed, Skydance is developing a film adaptation in conjunction with the estate of Buck Rogers creator Philip Francis Nowlan. The movie is still in the early stages, but Deadline reports that Nowlan's estate is already attempting to block the Clooney-Legendary collaboration from bearing any fruit with a cease-and-desist order.
“Be advised that the Buck Rogers Interests have signed an agreement with Skydance Productions LLC to produce Buck Rogers content,” wrote the estate's attorney, Neville Johnson, per Deadline's report. "Your conduct is a slander of title of the rights the Buck Rogers Interests own. Demand is made that you correct the record publicly as Legendary/Murphy has no chain of title." (You can read the full letter here.)
A spokesperson for Legendary refuted the claims, saying in a statement to Deadline, "We have secured the rights we need to proceed with our project and the company will not comment any further on these baseless claims."
Even with a possible legal battle brewing, not all of Nowlan's works are copyrighted. Per THR, Armageddon 2419 A.D. (a late 1920s novella in which the character first appeared as "Anthony Rogers") is in the public domain. Johnson, however, doesn't see that story as genuine Buck Rogers IP. "Buck is not in Armageddon, Anthony is a different character," the lawyer told the trade.
How will it all shake out? Like Buck himself, we'll need to travel into the future for an answer.