Writer-director Kevin Smith says he is no longer involved with a television adaptation of the cult sci-fi movie The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension after MGM recently filed a lawsuit against the original filmmakers to sort out rights issues.
In an 18-minute Facebook Live video posted Monday, Smith said he had just learned of the lawsuit by reading about it in the Hollywood Reporter. The complaint, filed last week, asserts that rights to Buckaroo Banzai reside with MGM, not screenwriter Earl Mac Rauch and director W.D. Richter.
While Smith declined to take sides in the courtroom drama — “I’m not jumping into that legal battle,” he said — he was unwilling to proceed on the project without Rauch and Richter’s involvement.
“The only reason I love Buckaroo Banzai is because of those two guys,” he said. “Because of Earl Mac Rauch … and W.D. Richter.”
Explaining that he wanted to enlist Rauch to write for the television series and Richter to direct, Smith said, “I don’t want to make anything unless those dudes are involved. They had the vision. All we’re doing is taking their amazing vision and making a TV show of it.”
He added, “What I’m saying is, respectfully to all parties involved, I’m out.”
Smith is a longtime fan of the 1984 film — which stars Peter Weller as a genius scientist, experimental race car driver, and rock star who saves the world from reptilian aliens — and he began developing a TV version earlier this year. Amazon came aboard in the summer.
In his Facebook video, Smith expressed no ill will and indicated that the project had still been in the early stages.
“I love the people at MGM,” he said. “They’ve treated me insanely well all across this project, with real credibility and stuff like that. They thought I could do this show even when I didn’t think I could. And the folks at Amazon have been lovely as well. But you’ve got to remember, there’s no production yet, no script has been turned in, I haven’t been paid a dime, no money has been really spent. So it’s not like we’re going to upend a lot of things.”
A spokesperson for MGM did not immediately respond to request for comment.
Watch Smith’s video above.