Terry Gilliam Loses Court Battle And Rights To 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'

It was only a few weeks ago that Terry Gilliam was able to unveil his decades-long passion project, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, to an eager audience at Cannes. The run-up to the reveal was fraught with legal battles, though, and while seeing the film on a big screen was indeed a triumph for the director, he was just dealt a significant defeat. The Paris Court of Appeals has now ruled that Gilliam no longer has the rights to the film, putting any further release in serious jeopardy.

So how does something like this happen? We mentioned before that it was all about this feud between Gilliam and producer Paulo Branco, who was approached for financing and in return would retain rights to the movie. Gilliam claims Branco didn't live up to his end of bargain. The court disagrees, and now the rights to the movie are in Branco's control. It has already been released in France and distribution was being sought for the U.S. and other territories. What Branco decides to do about that is unclear, but he's vowed to seek damages in relation to the prior release. He tells ScreenDaily...

“The ruling means that the rights to the film belong to Alfama. Any exploitation of the film up until now has been completely illegal and without the authorization of Alfama. We will be seeking damages with interest from all the people involved in this illegal production and above all, all those who were complicit in its illegal exploitation. We’re holding everyone responsible.”

So what's next? I have to think Branco will seek to secure distribution deals on his own because that's the only way to recoup on the investment. It wouldn't make sense for him to just sit on the film and not do anything with it. It would even be in his best interests to try and negotiate something with Gilliam and the cast to do promotion for it, because that can only help business. Without them the movie is essentially useless, and I doubt they will want to do press for it on their own.