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Director Terry Gilliam has encountered more trouble with his years-long passion project The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, as news broke today that the filmmaker has lost his rights to the film. Despite all of the time that Gilliam has poured into the film’s production, the director lost a court battle that determined who had proper rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.
The Paris Court of Appeal ruled that the film’s former producer Paulo Branco has the rights to the project after reviewing a 2016 contract that confirmed Branco’s enduring ties to the film. It was Branco that originally began the suit, taking Gilliam to court over the film’s rights after claiming the filmmaker made the movie illegally.
Following the Paris Court’s ruling, Branco expressed gratitude over the decision and shock over the fact that the film was made by parties who did not own its rights. He has the following to say on the matter during an interview with Screen Daily:
“The film belongs in its entirety to [the production company Alfama Films]. The film was made illegally. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen so many people embark on a mission to produce and exploit a film, without holding the rights. It’s a unique case.”
The Paris Court of Appeal’s ruling also ordered Gilliam to pay €10,000 ($11,600) to Alfama Films. Branco stressed that his company Alfama will be seeking similar damages from everyone involved with the film’s production, including “the film’s producers, Kinology, all the others who supported the film, including those who distributed the film in France and the Cannes Film Festival, everyone.”
Man Who Killed Don Quixote is an adaptation of Cervantes’ famous work Don Quixote and stars Jonathan Pryce and Adam Driver. The film has long suffered a tumultuous production. Gilliam originally began plans for the film back in 1998 and had Johnny Depp attached to star. But plans fell apart, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote continued to meet challenges that halted production, ranging from health issues to natural disasters. Gilliam attempted to make the film on eight different occasions over nearly two decades. The filmmaker finally managed to get the project moving in 2015 after Amazon agreed to fund and release the film. Man Who Killed Don Quixote began filming in 2017 and wrapped shooting last summer. Gilliam finished a rough cut in November of 2017 and described his film as “surprisingly wonderful.”
The Man Who Killed Don Quixote finally premiered in May at this year's Cannes Film Festival to great anticipation, but it ended up receiving mixed reviews following its screening. Even still, many believed that the story of Gilliam’s infamous project that had finally come to fruition had found its conclusion with the Cannes premiere. However, Branco has made it clear that this is not the case. With his impassioned statements after the court hearing, it appears as though Branco will be leaving no stone unturned in his quest for justice over the film’s production. One thing is for certain: The Man Who Killed Don Quixote’s long and troubled journey is not over just yet.