Get Ready for the ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ Movie Sequel

Tono To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper LeeThe 1960 story of a lawyer in Alabama defending a black man accused of rape is undoubtedly one of America’s most famous literary creations.The novel also became a movie starring in 1962. Gregory Pike Won an Oscar for Best Picture. So why is Lee’s estate now giving up its lucrative movie rights to the novel?

Notably, the late author’s estate says it has granted rights to kill a robin to the descendants of the producer Alan Pakuladirector Robert Mulligan and Peck, who now jointly control the rights to the Atticus Finch story, and can license sequels or any derivative works (prequels, remakes, NFTs, metaverse versions, and many more). That’s according to blockbuster court documents quietly filed in federal court in Alabama last Wednesday. Tonya Carterlawyers, spokespersons and trustees for the Lee estate filed documents to confirm the outcome of the secret arbitration that began with one of the most infamous literary events of the century.

Back in 2015, in the final days of Lee’s 89-year-old life, HarperCollins announced a to set the watchman has been discovered and will be published.Lee actually wrote the “sequel,” which first detailed Atticus Finch’s later years, before Robin, but she put it on hold for more than half a century. Few people knew of its existence, and when it surfaced, some suspected that Carter had taken advantage of Li, a stroke patient who was then frail, hearing and vision impaired.One New York Times Columnist Calls Publishing warder “An epic money grab in American publishing history.”

in spite of.The book flew off the shelf (in 1.1 million the first week! ) and, of course, Hollywood came along and offered multimillion-dollar movie rights. Of course, what no one knew at the time was that the frenzy would spark a years-long legal battle between the Lee family and the 1962 film’s succession. Will a movie remake or sequel happen? If so, who has the skills to do this? After years of arbitration, those questions are now answered after Carter experienced a huge setback and reached a came up with a Robin A movie sequel is now a possibility, and it probably won’t — in fact, probably won’t — based on warder.

Exactly what happened is complicated, the story told in a 131-page arbitration award issued three years ago and only now being made public. In light of this remarkable decision, Lee loved the 62-year-old film and remained friends with Peck for decades, but she didn’t like the idea of ​​any new releases. For example, in October 2008, she wrote to Parker’s widow, thanking her for sending her DVDs of old movies. “I was in tears – thinking about all the good things my beloved friend gave me and his perfect portrayal,” she wrote. “Of course he is the only Atticus and I hope there is a way to prevent any kind of remake [Mockingbird]. I know we can ‘ban’ forever, but things always happen. “

That year, the prescient Lee made moves that set the stage for later battles. First, she issued copyright termination notices to producers of older films. Under federal law, authors can unassign and reclaim their rights after waiting a certain amount of time. The idea is that many writers lack the bargaining power in negotiations with publishers and studios when they are emerging. When Congress extended the term of copyright by several decades in the mid-1970s, lawmakers allowed authors to regain access to their labor at a later date in the extension. So, after waiting for decades, the author may send a termination notice and bite the apple again.

That’s exactly what Lee did in 2008. But her motives may be unusual. Evidence suggests, as she told Peck’s widow, that she sees copyright termination not as a tool to profit from it, but as a mechanism to prevent remakes. Around the same time, Lee also entered into a new copyright assignment to Pakula and Mulligan—one that retained the literary, television and stage rights. Why do you want to do this?In arbitration, the producers advised Lee to trust that they would honor her wishes and not make another Robin Movie. At the turn of the century, they agreed to boost her profit share, which might have helped too.

Whatever the reasons for Lee’s termination and second grant, these will be important decisions, and seven years later, warder There was a buzz, and suddenly there was genuine interest in turning the novel into a movie. According to the arbitration award, Universal made a seven-figure offer for the rights to the film to Lee’s representatives. Upon learning of this, Pakula’s heirs objected and quickly sought to execute a $10,000 sequel option under the original 1961 deal. Robin. Given the insistence of the Pakula heirs them Holding rights, Universal withdrew its offer to Lee.

A few months before Lee’s death, in February 2016, she issued a new termination notice. It was a prelude to an arbitration in which Pakula’s heirs tried to oust Lee in her final days to find out if the Carter-rigged rumors were true – did the historic, reclusive writer really want to publish? warder and remove them from new movie releases?They investigated her will (which lifted the prohibition on remaking Robin film), later claiming the estate violated Pakula’s sequel rights deal by refusing to accept a $10,000 payment; by secretly entering into an agreement with Scott Rudin Productions for a Broadway production (Aaron Sorkinversion) without giving them a first chance; and by serving the latest notice of termination. Carter insisted that she acted in accordance with Lee’s instructions and wishes.

After telling the history and gaining insight into the nature of copyright law, Richard Silberbergthe arbitrators handling the dispute found that both 2008 and 2015 termination attempts were unsuccessful in removing the producer’s Robin Movie rights. While the purpose of the law is to give the author and his heirs the opportunity to reclaim their rights, the terminator must follow strict protocols for when to send the notice, and regarding Lee’s first attempt, he ruled that her notice came a little too early and was therefore invalid. Silberberg also declared that the 2015 termination attempt was also null and void, as Lee re-granted rights in 2008.

Why was Lee’s 2008 re-grant allowed? Silberberg discusses other terminations involving Winnie the Pooh and Superman, as well as other well-known cases in the copyright world, and concludes that new licenses are likely to be purposeful: authors sometimes negotiate better compensation in exchange for relicensing Eliminate their ability to take back their rights.

Finally, while the arbitrator discussed Carter’s allegations that she went against Lee’s will in her later years (including by sending notices of termination and initiating arbitration), Silberberg points to how Carter obtained a power of attorney in 2012, which gave her extensive power, and he has not been able to assess such a claim.

Overall, it’s a huge win for Pakula and Mulligan’s heirs.Although the arbitrator did not decide which specific rights Robin and warder Given them (arbitrator ordered more briefing on this), they clearly prevailed. What’s more, Carter is staring at the possibility of damages, as she claims she has cast a shadow over their right to control the sequel.

That paves the way for a settlement that the arbitrator blessed on Jan. 20.As part of the agreement, Lee Estates formally acknowledged that the 2008 transaction granted Robin, including the ability to “age” characters backwards and forwards in any prequel or sequel. Lee Estate retains TV, stage and Robin Publishing rights, which of course provide some control and are lucrative. But the descendants of Pakula, Mulligan and Peck control the property. If they do a remake or sequel to the film, Lee’s Manor will get 15% of the profits involved.

As for the movie version warder, which received mixed reviews when it was published, is a bit complicated. Those rights also technically belong to Pakula and Mulligan, but they have to wait 10 years before proceeding with the consent of Lee’s estate.In other words, if there is a sequel to kill a robinExpect it to be mostly raw material and no based on to set the watchman.

In any case, this settlement appears to be where Silberberg is headed, but there’s an even more surprising one. Pakula and Mulligan’s heirs will refute their claims that Carter hindered their ability to make new films. As part of the deal, the Lee Estate is paying them an undisclosed sum.

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