Gregory Peck’s Daughter and Others Keep ‘Mockingbird’ Sequel Rights

Gregory Peck’s Daughter and Others Maintain ‘Mockingbird’ Sequel Rights

Within the years since Harper Lee’s death in 2016, her 1960 novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” has been reimagined in shocking new methods. It was launched as a graphic novel in 2018, and tailored into a success Broadway manufacturing by the screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

Now, after a yearslong authorized battle, the trail has been cleared for an additional main adaptation: a movie remake or sequel.

No plans have been introduced, or are even being contemplated, in keeping with the successors and heirs of the makers of the unique 1962 movie adaptation starring Gregory Peck.

However unsealed paperwork filed in an Alabama federal courtroom reveal how these successors and heirs efficiently fought Lee’s property to protect the precise to make any sequel or by-product film, which they argued had been initially granted by Lee in 1961 and reaffirmed by her in 2008.

The dispute over the film rights to Lee’s traditional has been brewing for years. Shortly earlier than her loss of life, Lee tried to revoke movie rights from the heirs of the unique movie producers. The producers entered a counterclaim, arguing that their earlier cope with Lee remained in impact, and that the property had no proper to enter any agreements with different producers or filmmakers for something derived from “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Go Set a Watchman,” one other novel by Lee, launched in 2015.

The drawn-out battle pitted a best-selling American literary icon in opposition to the descendants of filmmakers who had produced an acclaimed film that gained the Oscar for finest image and that Lee herself professed to like.

As a part of an arbitration settlement, which was reported earlier by the digital media company Puck, the Lee property additionally agreed to pay an undisclosed sum to the heirs of the “Mockingbird” producer Alan Pakula; the director, Robert Mulligan; and Peck, who performed the lead function as Atticus Finch, a small-town Alabama lawyer who fights to exonerate a wrongly convicted Black man. Cecilia Peck, the actor’s daughter, signed for the Atticus Company, which was celebration to the settlement. The settlement additionally provides the producers rights to make a movie adaptation of “Go Set a Watchman,” with the caveat that the property should log out on it.

It was one other authorized setback for Lee’s property, which just lately lost a battle with the writer of a stage model of “Mockingbird,” after an arbitrator dominated that the property should pay greater than $2.5 million in damages and costs to Dramatic Publishing, a theatrical publishing firm that has licensed a stage adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” for many years.

Lee herself was such a fan of the 1962 movie that she was firmly against a sequel or remake which may dilute its legacy. In a 2008 letter to Peck’s widow, she was adamant that nobody however Peck ought to embody Atticus onscreen: “After all, he was the one Atticus & I hope there may be some strategy to stop a re-make, of any sort,” she wrote. “I do know that we are able to ‘forbid’ without end, however issues occur.”

In 2008, Lee entered a brand new settlement with the successors to the unique producers, which gave them movement image and different rights to “To Kill a Mockingbird,” whereas Lee reserved the literary, stage, tv and single-person radio rights. Lee’s representatives tried to terminate these rights in 2015, simply months earlier than her loss of life, however the arbitrator dominated that the hassle to revoke rights had not been legitimate.

In an announcement, Tonja B. Carter, executor of the Lee property, lamented the result of the arbitration, and stated that Lee had been misguided when she entered the 2008 settlement.

“We’re disenchanted with the result of this arbitration,” she stated. “It was based mostly solely upon a one-sided 2008 settlement that the heirs of Gregory Peck satisfied Ms. Lee to signal, at a time when she was suggested solely by her 93-year-old sister, regardless that it was solely in opposition to her pursuits to take action. The 2008 settlement transferred terribly invaluable mental property rights owned by Ms. Lee in alternate for $1.”

A lawyer representing the producers, Mark Lee, stated that his shoppers fought to retain movie rights partly to forestall anybody else from making a film that may undermine the spirit of the novel or the unique movie.

“They wish to be correct guardians of these rights,” he stated. “They need nothing to occur with these rights that they don’t approve of, or that may not honor Ms. Lee’s legacy.”

He added that there have been no rapid plans to forge forward with a movie based mostly on Lee’s well-known characters.

“My shoppers haven’t any current intention to create or produce a remake or sequel,” he stated. “I’d by no means say by no means, however at current they haven’t any such plans.”

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