Wait long enough and you’ll live to see your favorite films come around again in a new, rebooted form, to the lamentations of those old enough to either remember the original or even care about such things. It’s trite to say that Hollywood currently is nothing but sequels, reboots and overextended franchises (and prospective overextended franchises) but the truth is in the headlines: most movies coming out came from something preexisting. And given that level of reliance upon such material, it seems only a matter of time before we see a growing docket of copyright cases against those revived films.
‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ might not have jumped out as an obvious candidate for a reboot (unless Holly Golightly has some heretofore unknown connection to the Infinity Stones) but a reboot nevertheless seems to be (or have been) in the offing, because said reboot is the subject of a copyright lawsuit from the remaining representatives of the late author Truman Capote. Per The Hollywood Reporter, that lawsuit now has attached a $20 million price tag, to be paid by Paramount Pictures in the event the court finds in favor of the Capote estate, such as it exists.
The lawsuit was brought by Alan Schwartz, a trustee with the Truman Capote Literary Trust, over a script for a reboot of the iconic film that had been passed around the studio. Schwartz and the trust and Paramount are at odds over whether the rights to Capote’s work remain with the studio or have reverted back to the trust. The two sides had previously come to an agreement for Paramount’s option to purchase the film rights and make a reboot in 1991, but clearly the movie never came to fruition, and it’s the assertion of Schwartz and the trust that the rights now lie with them again.
Because we now live in the golden age of The Most Content, the fight was less about the preservation of a legacy than who gets to profit off of the work; the trust had been shopping ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ as a series, hence the $20 million in damage done by a prospective film in the works. That's not to suggest that Capote’s Literary Trust doesn't care about the author’s works or legacy, but the demands of the moment are what they are, and the content mills need grist — why not make something off of it?
Perhaps ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ is a more deserving candidate for remake than some other films of its time, in no small part due to Mickey Rooney’s character in the film, which should only exist moving forward as an abject lesson in horrible mistakes of Hollywood past that shouldn't be repeated. But given that movie studios seem unable or more likely unwilling to pursue new ideas in favor of seemingly surer bets, it’s not hard to imagine more fights like this in the future over copyright and film rights. Legal battles could become such that those studios may have to take an unprecedented step: filming original material.