Legendary Remains Confident in ‘Buck Rogers’ Rights After Latest Legal Threat

Company was hit with a cease and desist letter Tuesday over planned reboot with George Clooney

Last Updated: February 2, 2021 @ 8:20 PM

Legendary Pictures maintains it is the rightful owners of the “Buck Rogers” rights following the latest legal threat from the Nowlan Family Trust, who claims they own the rights.

Legendary was hit with a cease and desist letter on Tuesday over the planned reboot with George Clooney, which was announced last week.

“We have secured the rights we need to proceed with our project and the company will not comment any further on these baseless claims,” Legendary said via a spokesperson. “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.”

Clooney and Grant Heslov will executive produce a new television adaptation of “Buck Rogers” for Legendary under their Smokehouse banner. “Transformers” producer Don Murphy and Susan Montford will produce via their Angry Films banner along with Flint Dille, the grandson of the original Buck Rogers creator.

“The Nowlans are not even the Nowlans, they are McDevitts, and they have been trying to con their way into Buck Rogers for a generation,” Murphy told TheWrap in a statement. “Fortunately, the courts have recognized their game playing and they don’t have a legal leg to stand on.”

Michael Ross, Legendary Entertainment’s EVP Business Affairs received the cease and desist letter, obtained by TheWrap, that says the Nowlan Family Trust has a deal with Skydance to exploit the Buck Rogers IP. According to an insider with knowledge of the Skydance project, no talent is involved and currently attached.

The project is based on the characters and concepts introduced in the 1928 novella “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” novella by Philip Francis Nowlan. The story followed “Anthony Rogers,” a mining engineer from the 20th century who awakens from suspended animation after 500 years to find himself in the middle of a planetary war.

Nowlan and Chicago newspaperman John F. Dille developed the concept into a serialized comic strip in 1929, with the character’s named changed from Anthony to “Buck.” With the name changed to “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” the concept was essentially Rip Van Winkle in the future, with a modern-day man learning to cope 500 years in the future to a world that is no longer recognizable to him.

It was subsequently adapted for comic books, movie serials, radio dramas, and eventually the fondly remembered 1979-1981 television series.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.