In what could be shaping up as a race to the finish or potential legal action, Buck Rogers looks to be heading back to the small screen and big screen after a nearly 40-year absence from both.
Buck Rogers, a property that has been dormant for quite some time, found itself in the news recently when George Clooney, along with his Smokehouse producing partner Grant Heslov, announced that they and Legendary Entertainment were developing a TV reboot of with Clooney possibly starring. However, the Buck Rogers estate is against the reboot.
The Nowlan Family Trust is the overseer of the Buck Rogers estate, which sent a cease-and-desist letter to Legendary’s EVP of Business Affairs Michael Ross, contending that the Buck Rogers interests have already inked an agreement with Skydance Productions and David Ellison to produce a Buck Rogers movie of their own. The letter – which can be read here in full – was signed by Neville Johnson, the estate’s attorney. Johnson’s sharp-tongued letter concludes by saying they will hold all accountable, which would include punitive damages, while also taking a shot at Angry Films’ Don Murphy personality stating, “‘Angry Films’ is an apt name for Mr. Murphy’s personality and style.”
A spokesperson for Legendary made it clear that the company had no plans of backing away from a possible legal battle in regards to the Buck Rogers brand. “We have secured the rights we need to proceed with our project and the company will not comment any further on these baseless claims,” the Legendary spokesperson said via 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.”
Threats aside, George Clooney’s version appears to be a TV project while Skydance is seemingly working on a feature film version of Buck Rogers. The last time the space hero was seen or heard from was back in 1979 with the Gil Gerard-led Buck Rogers in the 25th Century TV series. Buck Rogers’ roots date back to the 1928 Phillip Nowlan novella Armageddon 2419 A.D., which was shortly thereafter turned into a comic strip. Over the years, Rogers saw more action in comics as well as on a radio show that ran from 1932 to 1947. Buck Rogers got his start on film with a 1939 Universal Pictures serial film, a 12-parter that starred Buster Crabbe as Rogers.
At the moment, Legendary’s Buck Rogers is much further along than what Skydance is attempting to do, as Skydance doesn’t have any announced talent linked to their project. This includes writers or even a hint at who might be playing the title role. But both entities appear to be moving full steam ahead, regardless of the possible legal ramifications. George Clooney’s project has its producers set as well as its writer, Brian K. Vaughn, who is a comic book artist as well as a writer on the popular series Lost and Under the Dome.
But Buck Rogers hasn’t had much of a media presence since the early ’80s, so it’s a bit strange that there are multiple projects vying to star the sci-fi character. There have been many projects in the works over the last few decades, but none have come to fruition. But with both a television show and a film in development, it looks as though Buck Rogers is about to become a household name once more.