The right to create a sequel, prequel or TV series based on the popular 1961 film “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is now the subject of a tense legal battle.
According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, the issue comes down to ownership of Truman Capote’s 1958 novella that the movie was based on. Before he died, Capote reportedly set up a charitable trust that named Alan Schwartz as the trustee.
As the complaint notes (via The Hollywood Reporter), when he died in 1984, Capote’s estate entered into an agreement with Paramount Pictures that allowed the studio to option a new project based on the book. However, the agreement put a time limit on the studio’s right to develop a project before it would revert back to Schwartz and the charity.
The plaintiff in the case asserts that the studio no longer has any claim to the property other than to profit off the 1961 movie as it missed its window to do anything related to “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” Paramount, however, claims that it maintains the rights to the movie as it was under no obligation to produce a film and spent $300,000 for the right to have that option.
The plaintiff, who is reportedly represented by Ed McPherson, believes that the reversion of ownership did in fact take place given that, under the old copyright law, if Capote died during the initial 28-year term, the right to renew the copyright would have passed to statutory heirs.
The suit goes on to detail negotiations for the charity to produce a TV series based on the story. Apparently the charity and Paramount have been in negotiations as the former is fielding numerous, potentially lucrative bids to produce something. However, the studio has raised its objections and allegedly will settle for nothing short of a motion picture. As a result of that and the legal dispute, all negotiations are reportedly stalled.