In 2001, director George Nolfi optioned the rights to Philip K. Dick’s short story for the film ‘The Adjustment Bureau’. At that time, he agreed to pay $25,000 against the purchase price plus 2.5% of the net profits on the film to Dick’s estate. Then, in 2009, Media Rights Capital bought the project and gave the family $1.4-million.
However, it seems now as if MRC has reneged on Nolfi’s original deal with Dick’s estate. Lawyers representing Dick’s estate have filed a suit in the California US District Court against Media Rights Capital claiming that the company still owes the family more than half a million dollars. The family claims that it was owed this extra money when the film broke even and they were still due their net profit percentage from the original deal agreed upon by Nolfi. However, MRC is fighting back with their claim that Dick’s story’s copyright is lapsed and is now in the open domain anyway.
Dick’s original story was published in a science fiction magazine in 1954 and it’s that fact that MRC is exploiting to their advantage as it would indeed put the story in open domain. However, Dick’s estate is claiming that the 1954 publication was done without Dick’s knowledge or consent, making it invalid. The first official printing of Dick’s material was in a 1973 short story collection, the estate claims. The estate further believes that MRC knew from the start that it would battle the copyright, but waited to do so until they had the film finished.
The estate’s lawyer, Justin Goldstein, issued this statement about the lawsuit:
“Philip K. Dick’s trust and heirs were partners every step of the way in lending time, support and cooperation during the development, production, marketing and release of The Adjustment Bureau. Almost immediately after the movie was released and the money started to roll in, the filmmakers and Media Rights Capital attempted to cut the Trust out entirely, and grab every last dollar for themselves. To try to justify this greedy move, they claim that contracts and copyright filings which they, their lawyers, and agents reviewed and approved – and which the U.S. Copyright Office blessed not once but twice – are now wrong. On behalf of the millions of fans worldwide of this visionary science fiction author, it truly saddens us that the matter had to reach this point.”