Chain of Title

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  • Chain of Title

    hey all

    I wrote a screenplay a few years ago for a producer. It is an adaptation of a novel and the development was financed by a highly regarded production/distribution company in the UK.

    The film never happened- surprise surprise. However, a director friend of mine just read the script and fell in love with it. She wants to try and make the film.

    The rights to the novel are available.

    The producer I wrote it for is no longer involved.

    What would be the strategy here? Given that the script was paid for by a company? Would my friend have to find financiers and get them to purchase the script from said company?

    Any advice would be hugely appreciated.

  • #2
    Everyone seems to have different opinions about this. I keep reading stories on this sub about old producer's crawling out of the woodwork and demanding credit.

    I can only speak to my personal experience which is that my prod-co has considered optioning projects that were previously with other companies or producers. Not once has it seemed to spook the executives or business affairs people I work with, all of whom bring many years of combined experience. Maybe we're the exception, I don't know. Not discounting anyone else's experiences, just speaking to what I've seen.

    We're typically more concerned with the question of, "This project was already taken out once before. How wide did it go, who passed and why, and has enough time passed to try again?"

    If the script's no longer under option with that company then I think you're in the clear.

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    • #3
      Turnaround/chain of title rules may well be different in the UK so you should seek specifically UK advice. That said, the original company had the rights and paid for a script. They no longer control the source material but they own the drafts as you were paid for them. Your director friend, if they have any heat, could approach the original company who may want to reacquire the rights to the novel because of this director attachment. If they don't you have to ask them for the drafts in turnaround. They are under no obligation to do this for you (don't know about the UK but in the US the writer can trigger turnaround if the project has been inactive for five years). If they want to, the producers will come up with a number which is how much it cost them (script, option, development time of execs etc., they will add it all on) and this number would become due on first day of shooting.

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