The Buck Rogers Estate Sends Cease and Desist to Legendary Entertainment Over TV Series

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century comic strip compilation cover cropped for featured image


The Buck Rogers Estate Demands Legendary Stop Production on TV Show

Last week, Legendary Entertainment announced a new Buck Rogers TV series. George Clooney and his partner at Smokehouse are slated to produce. They secured the writer and were even working with the original Buck Rogers publisher’s grandchild. However, they received a cease and desist letter from the Buck Rogers estate attorney, Neville Johnson. He claims that another studio, Skydance Productions, already had the rights to Buck Rogers. 

The Cease and Desist Letter

Philip Francis Nowlan - Armageddon 2419 A.D. - the original Buck Rogers novella
The original Buck Rogers novella – public domain?

Johnson was thorough, to be sure. He sent the Legendary attorney both an email and hard copy of the cease and desist. Strangely, the letter named Don Murphy, an Angry Films producer on board for the Buck Rogers project, instead of the most famous name associated with it, which is Clooney. 

Johnson wrote, “Demand is made that you correct the record publicly, as Legendary/Murphy have no chain of title. You are directed to advise all third parties, including any insurers, distributors, and financers that there is no chain of title held by Legendary/Murphy.”

He added a bit about Murphy’s past, writing, “We note that the litigious Mr. Murphy has lost every legal maneuver he has so far attempted.”

For the record, Murphy was involved in a previous dispute over Buck Rogers rights in 2019, but the court dismissed it. 

Legendary’s Response

Legendary does not appear particularly concerned about the letter. In truth, cease and desists don’t mean much unless you can back it up with a lawsuit. They confirmed that they have done everything they need to produce the show.

“We have secured the rights we need to proceed with the project and the company will not comment any further on these baseless claims,” a Legendary spokesperson told Deadline. “This same party has been claiming for years that they have rights which they do not have and have been trying to inhibit projects based on rights they do not legally control.” 

Neville Johnson’s Experience 

Johnson is a skilled attorney, with significant wins under his belt. He is certainly not afraid to take on large studios. In the past, he won a suit for Colin Higgins’ estate against Universal over unpaid home video footage in 2015. He won the plaintiff $26 million.

He also represented Sylvester Stallone. Johnson took on Warner Bros. over the actor’s Demolition Man royalties

Going Forward

So Legendary will move forward with their Buck Rogers series. The estate could hold up production with the lawsuit. But that’s only if they are serious and can afford it. The ball is in their court, if they want to take it there. 

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