Determining who owns all of the rights necessary to remake a movie can be a complicated and difficult task. The history of rights owners, or chain of titles, must be researched to find who currently owns the remake rights to the movie, the rights to the original screenplay and the rights to the works the original movie was based on, if necessary. Copyright owners often change, making the search process difficult.
Check the copyright notice on the original movie. This provides with a starting point in finding who owns the current rights, but there is a good chance the rights to the movie have changed hands since.
Conduct a search through the U.S. Copyright Office to find the current owner of the rights to the original movie, if necessary. You can conduct this search yourself, or through a law firm or copyright search company.
Inquire if the current owner of the rights to the original movie also has remake rights. Some distributors only have rights to the original film. Locate the individual or body that owns the remake rights.
Find the person or group that owns the rights to the original screenplay. It is often necessary to obtain either permission from the original screenplay rights holder or purchase the rights yourself, since a remake screenplay will likely include elements from the original screenplay.
Determine who owns the motion picture rights if the original movie was based on a preexisting work, such as a novel. The original movie rights owner may still have this right, or it may have reverted back to the author or creator of the works the original movie was based on.
Negotiate to purchase the rights from all necessary right owners, such as remake rights on the original movie, rights to the original screenplay, and rights to the work the original movie was based on, if applicable.
Researching the chain of titles for a movie and negotiating the necessary rights is a complicated task. It may be best to hire an entertainment lawyer.
Clayton Yuetter has worked as a professional writer since 1999. His writing has appeared in many journals and websites such as The Milk House, The Country Folks, Progressive Dairyman and Three Times Daily. He received a Master of Arts in writing at the National University of Ireland, Galway.