Q: I read in the trades that Fox bought the rights to the nonfiction book The Floor of Heaven which is based on an historical figure during an historical event. If historical events/figures are open game for the public to write about, when is it necessary to secure nonfiction book rights? Holy Blood Holy Grail was used in the research for Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code — they sued him and lost. So I’m really confused as to when it applies. And am asking because I have a script based on an historical figure and used one particular book heavily in my research — should I inquire about the rights? If not legally necessary, is there any benefit in doing so?
A: We get two types of questions very frequently. The first, of course, is: “are you single?” The second involves the making of movies based on historical people or events. I had no idea so many filmmakers were interested in making movies that are generally incapable of a sequel. What’s the point of making movie if you can’t follow it a few years later with a derivative, unimaginative rehash? I’m still waiting for Thirteen Days 2: The Bangkok Missile Crisis but I’m pretty sure it’s never going to happen.
Continue Reading Q&A: Do I Need to Acquire Movie Rights to a Non-Fiction Book in Order to Make a Film About an Historical Event?