The science-fiction romance flick The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt was about two people attempting to escape their own fate. It did decently at the box office and earned some good reviews. Adapted and directed by George Nolfi, it was based on the short story The Adjustment Team by Hollywood’s favorite SF author Philip K. Dick. Now, however, Dick’s estate has filed suit, claiming that the production is trying to escape paying royalties on the film.
The suit, which is detailed over at The Wrap, names writer/director George Nolfi, producer Michael Hackett, Media Rights Capital, and Oaktree Entertainment. Philip K. Dick’s trust says the producers are attempting to avoid paying royalties by falsely claiming that the original story had entered the public domain.
Nolfi allegedly first paid $75,000 to option the movie rights to the story, with the trust set to receive between $1 and $1.8 million dependent on budget and another $100 grand once the movie made its money back. Of that, the producers have paid $1.4 million, but haven’t paid further royalties because of their claim that the copyright on The Adjustment Team has lapsed, thus placing the story in the public domain.
You’d think the issue of public domain would be easy to sort out, but both sides offer conflicting evidence. The producers of the film cite the story’s 1954 appearance in the magazine “Orbit,” a date which they claim would place the story in the public domain. The author’s estate, however, claims Dick never knew about that publication of the story, and that the first approved and authorized publication of the story was in the 1973 collection The Book of Philip K. Dick. So you’ve got two publication dates and a mess of copyright law that makes my head hurt.
With a budget of $50.2 million according to IMDb, The Adjustment Bureau has taken in $126 million worldwide. We’ll keep you posted as the case develops.