Screenplay Sagas: 50 Remarkable Movie Rights Facts

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1Brando's Iran-Contra Bid Foiled

Brando's Iran-Contra Bid Foiled

Marlon Brando attempted to acquire the rights to a movie about the Iran-Contra scandal using a former CIA connection. The CIA thwarted this attempt by establishing a front company to outbid Brando for the rights. The person entrusted with overseeing this operation was none other than Colonel Oliver North.

2. When securing the movie rights for "The Polar Express" (1985), one stipulation was that the resulting movie could not be animated. To preserve his vision, Robert Zemeckis opted for motion capture technology during the film's production.

3. Steven Spielberg beat James Cameron in acquiring the film rights to Jurassic Park by "a few hours." Cameron's envisioned version of the movie would have been "nastier, much nastier."

4. In 2013, Robert Downey Jr. prevailed over George Clooney in a bidding war for the movie rights to the Black Mirror (UK) episode 'The Entire History of You' because they were deeply enamored with it.

5. Stephen King sells the rights to some of his short stories for just $1, allowing aspiring filmmakers and students to adapt them into movies. This arrangement is known as the Dollar Baby.

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6Groom's Gump Rights Fiasco

Groom's Gump Rights Fiasco

Winston Groom was paid $350,000 for the screenplay rights to his novel Forrest Gump and was contracted for a 3 percent share of the film's net profits but never received his share due to Hollywood accounting, which contends that the movie lost money.

7. The Nightmare Before Christmas is based on a poem Tim Burton wrote in 1982 while working at Disney, which had purchased the film rights but deemed it too weird. Years later, after being fired from Disney, Tim realized they still owned the rights and convinced Disney to greenlight the movie.

8. Metallica acquired the rights to the movie "Johnny Got His Gun" to use clips of it in their 1988 song "One" without having to pay copyright to show it.

9. The comedy troupe Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker used to videotape late-night TV news for comedy ideas. One night, they unintentionally taped the movie Zero Hour! (1957), which inspired Airplane (1980). In fact, their script is so heavily based on it that they had to buy the rights to the original film.

10. A 12-minute Hobbit "movie" was made in 1967 because the production company was about to lose the film rights unless a movie was released. It was produced quickly and inexpensively, and it was released on the very last day the rights would expire. Tolkien had to pay $100,000 to reclaim the rights.

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11Starships Troopers' Unrelated Origin

Starships Troopers' Unrelated Origin

The movie "Starships Troopers" was originally titled "Bug Hunt at Outpost Nine" and had no connection to Robert Heinlein's novel. When the director later acquired the book rights, he only read two chapters, finding the rest boring.

12. The United States Department of Justice filed a forfeiture complaint in federal court to seize the rights to the movies "Dumb and Dumber To" and "Daddy's Home." The grounds for this action were that the movies were financed using money stolen from a Malaysian government investment fund.

13. In order to preserve its reputation, Nintendo purchased the 1993 porn parodies "Super Hornio Brothers" and "Super Hornio Brothers II." Nintendo ensured that both movies were never released.

14. Stephen Spielberg obtained the rights to the book "Shrek!" in 1991 with plans to create a 2D animated movie featuring Dan Aykroyd as Shrek and Chris Rock as Donkey. However, DreamWorks later acquired the rights and produced the Shrek movie we know today.

15. Michael Uslan, who taught the first college course on comics, grew up loving the dark grittiness of Batman but hated the campy 1960s TV show. He later bought the Batman film rights and produced all of the modern Batman movies, from Tim Burton to Nolan, including the Animated Series.

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16Disney's Oz Rights Defeat

Disney's Oz Rights Defeat

Walt Disney intended to produce an animated movie adaptation of "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," similar to his earlier film "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." However, MGM Studios won the film rights to the popular book, crushing Disney's plans.

17. Rob Reiner attempted to buy the rights to "Shawshank Redemption" from Frank Darabont. If successful, Red and Andy would have been played by Harrison Ford and Tom Cruise, respectively.

18. In 1994, Disney purchased the film rights for a movie centered on the Hasbro toy Stretch Armstrong. Danny DeVito accepted the titular role but insisted on making no jokes about his height. The film was later scrapped.

19. Fox Atomic, the owner of the movie title "Grand Theft Auto" due to the rights to the 1977 comedy of the same name, considered making another "Grand Theft Auto" movie in the late 2000s. However, they didn't even find a screenwriter for the new "Grand Theft Auto."

20. George Lucas, unable to obtain the rights to Flash Gordon, created Star Wars as an alternative.

21Lucas Sells Star Wars Radio Rights

Lucas Sells Star Wars Radio Rights

George Lucas sold the rights to create radio dramas of the first three Star Wars movies to NPR for only $1.

22. In 2010, Disney paid Paramount at least $115 million to acquire the distribution rights of Marvel's "The Avengers." As part of the deal, Paramount was credited in the movie's opening title despite not being the one who owned, financed, marketed, and distributed the film. The movie later grossed over $1.5 billion.

23. When James Cameron was an unknown director, he sold the rights to "The Terminator" for $1 to be allowed to direct the movie.

24. Keanu Reeves was originally planned to be the lead in "Passengers"; he developed and lobbied for the project for nearly seven years before the movie rights were sold to another company.

25. United Passions (2015) was a movie financed by FIFA for $29 million as a fluff piece to portray themselves positively. Due to its release coinciding with the FIFA Corruption Scandal, the movie only earned $918 at the opening weekend.

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