Miramax to sue Quentin Tarantino over NFTs based on 'Pulp Fiction'
by Ana Walia | Wed, 17 Nov 2021 12:15:09 GMT
Image Source: New York Post, Market Realist

The director Quentin Tarantino, known for his iconic movie "Pulp Fiction," is being sued by the film studio Miramax after the director announced his plans to release seven NFTs (non-fungible tokens) based on the film, including scenes from an early script that never made it to the final cut of the movie.

The director announced on November 2nd, 2021 that the NFTs would also contain Pulp Fiction art and commentary from Quentin Tarantino himself. Film Studio Miramax has decided to sue the director and sent a cease-and-desist letter to the director after the announcement, to no avail. The studio has stated that it is in talks with NFT partners based on its film collection, and the director's deal undercuts those efforts.

The company wrote in their lawsuit, "Tarantino’s conduct has forced Miramax to bring this lawsuit against a valued collaborator in order to enforce, preserve, and protect its contractual and intellectual property rights relating to one of Miramax’s most iconic and valuable film properties. Left unchecked, Tarantino’s conduct could mislead others into believing Miramax is involved in his venture. And it could also mislead others into believing they have the rights to pursue similar deals or offerings, when in fact Miramax holds the rights needed to develop, market, and sell NFTs relating to its deep film library". They called the director’s move to make NFTs based on a film a "deliberate, premeditated, short-term money grab."

Quentin Tarantino's NFT, dubbed "Tarantino NFT Collection," is being released in collaboration with SCRT Labs and the Hidden Network, which are attempting to develop a new sort of NFT that includes "secret" content.

According to a copy of director Quentin Tarantino's contract with Film Studio Miramax for 'Pulp Fiction,' the director retained some rights to the film, including the soundtrack album, music publishing, stage show, print publishing (including, without limitation, screenplay publication, 'making of' books, comic books, and novelization, in audio and electronic formats as applicable), interactive entertainment, theatrical and television sequel and remake rights, a sequel and remake rights, and television series and spinoff rights.

Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta in 'Pulp Fiction'. Image Source: Salon.com

Quentin Tarantino's lawyers responded to the studio's cease-and-desist letter by claiming that the director was acting within his "reserved rights," notably the right to screenplay publication. Because NFTs were not something studios or filmmakers were thinking about in the early 1990s, figuring out the restrictions on those reserved rights (particularly interactive media and script publication) would be essential in the end.

Proskauer Rose LLP. Bart Williams, who is representing the film studio Miramax, stated in a statement given to The Hollywood Reporter, "This group chose to recklessly, greedily, and intentionally disregard the agreement that Quentin signed instead of following the clear legal and ethical approach of simply communicating with Miramax about his proposed ideas. This one-off effort devalues the NFT rights to Pulp Fiction, which Miramax intends to maximize through a strategic, comprehensive approach. Miramax will defend all of its rights with regard to its library, including rights relating to NFTs, and will not allow Quentin’s representatives to deceive others into believing they have the authority to make similar deals in violation of the rights agreements they signed. "

In Hollywood, NFTs have become a valuable commodity, with actors and studios fighting for a piece of the action. The controlling stakeholder of Miramax, ViacomCBS, recently announced a collaboration with the NFT business Recur to build NFTs based on its intellectual property, while Warner Bros. and Nifty's are beginning an NFT avatar project based on the Matrix film franchise.

Quentin Tarantino's film Pulp Fiction, starring Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, and John Travolta, catapulted him from a lauded indie director to a major cinematic star in 1994. It was one of the numerous projects he worked on with Miramax, which was run by brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein at the time.

'Pulp Fiction' was produced by Miramax, which was co-founded by Harvey Weinstein and his brother, Bob Weinstein, the disgraced film magnate. Harvey Weinstein was fired from the production firm in October 2017 after a litany of sexual misconduct allegations surfaced.