Miramax wants to get medieval on Quentin Tarantino.
The production company is taking legal action against the writer-director over his plans to auction off script pages for seven scenes that didn’t make the final cut and other artifacts from the cult classic “Pulp Fiction” as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Miramax, which produced the 1994 film, filed a lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in California against Mr. Tarantino, alleging copyright infringement and breach of contract. Miramax is co-owned by BeIN Media Group and ViacomCBS Inc.
In the suit, Miramax said Mr. Tarantino is seeking to “capitalize, unilaterally, on Miramax’s rights to ‘Pulp Fiction.’” The suit follows a cease-and-desist letter sent by Miramax last week to Mr. Tarantino that said his Pulp Fiction NFT plans were a material breach of his rights agreement with the company.
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“It was profoundly disappointing to learn of this deliberate, premeditated, short-term money grab by the Tarantino team to unilaterally circumvent Miramax’s rights to Pulp Fiction through the illicit development, promotion, and distribution of NFTs,” said Bart Williams, a partner at law firm Proskauer Rose LLP, on behalf of Miramax. “Miramax will defend all of its rights in regard to its library, including rights relating to NFTs.”
Mr. Tarantino’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Pulp Fiction” was Mr. Tarantino’s second movie and a major hit. Its cast included John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Bruce Willis, and it told multiple stories set in and around Los Angeles. Like most of Mr. Tarantino’s work, “Pulp Fiction” contained some graphic violence and language. It was nominated for several Oscars and won for Best Screenplay. It also won the Palme d’Or, the highest honor at the Cannes Film Festival.
NFTs are essentially virtual deeds signifying ownership of a digital asset such as albums, art and sports memorabilia.
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Movie and television studios have begun exploring the NFT market. Warner Bros., a unit of AT&T Inc., is selling NFTs of avatars inspired by its movie franchise “The Matrix.” It has also released NFTs for other movies including “Space Jam: A New Legacy.” ViacomCBS is creating an NFT outlet that will use characters from popular shows and movies.
Mr. Tarantino announced his plans earlier this month. A release promoting the auction says the previously unreleased material and other artifacts will get a “glimpse into the mind and creative process of Quentin Tarantino.”
Besides the seven unused scenes from the movie, the NFTs will contain audio commentary, the release said.
According to the suit, Mr. Tarantino’s legal team told Miramax in response to its cease-and-desist letter that the director could proceed with the auction under a “reserved rights” clause in his original contract to make “Pulp Fiction.”
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Miramax alleges that Mr. Tarantino’s reserved rights were limited to the film’s soundtrack, music publishing, live performance, print publication, comic books and theatrical and television sequel and spinoff rights.
“Tarantino’s limited ‘Reserved Rights’ under the operative agreements are far too narrow for him to unilaterally produce, market, and sell the ‘Pulp Fiction’ NFTs,” the suit said.
Miramax partnered with Mr. Tarantino on many of his movies, including “Jackie Brown” and “Kill Bill: Volumes 1 and 2” when the company was run by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. It hasn’t worked with Mr. Tarantino on any new movies in many years.
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