The director announced the project, which will include scenes from a script that were cut from the 1995 Oscar best picture nominee, earlier this month.
Film studio Miramax is suing director Quentin Tarantino over plans to release non-fungible tokens (NFTs) based on his 1994 film, Pulp Fiction.
Tarantino announced plans earlier this month to release seven NFTs based on the film, including scenes from an early script that were cut from the final version. The NFTs will also contain Pulp Fiction art and commentary from Tarantino himself. Miramax says that it sent a cease-and-desist letter to the director after the announcement, to no avail. The studio claims that it is in discussions about forging NFT partnerships based on its library of films and that Tarantino’s agreement devalues those efforts.
“Tarantino’s conduct has forced Miramax to bring this lawsuit against a valued collaborator in order to enforce, preserve, and protect its contractual and intellectual property rights relating to one of Miramax’s most iconic and valuable film properties,” the company wrote in its lawsuit. “Left unchecked, Tarantino’s conduct could mislead others into believing Miramax is involved in his venture. And it could also mislead others into believing they have the rights to pursue similar deals or offerings, when in fact Miramax holds the rights needed to develop, market, and sell NFTs relating to its deep film library.”
The “Tarantino NFT Collection” is being launched in partnership with SCRT Labs and the Secret Network, which are trying to create a new type of NFT with “secret” content embedded within it. The Pulp Fiction NFTs would have a publicly viewable portion as well as content (including the previously unseen script sections) only visible to the owner.
“Miramax is wrong – plain and simple. Quentin Tarantino’s contract is clear: he has the right to sell NFTs of his hand-written script for Pulp Fiction and this ham-fisted attempt to prevent him from doing so will fail,” said Bryan Freedman, attorney for Quentin Tarantino, in a statement Wednesday. “But Miramax’s callous decision to disclose confidential information about its filmmakers’ contracts and compensation will irreparably tarnish its reputation long after this case is dismissed.”
According to a copy of Tarantino’s contract with Miramax for Pulp Fiction, the director retained some rights to the film, including “soundtrack album, music publishing, live performance, print publication (including, without limitation, screenplay publication, ‘making of’ books, comic books and novelization, in audio and electronic formats as well, as applicable), interactive media, theatrical and television sequel and remake rights, and television series and spinoff rights.”
In response to the cease-and-desist letter from Miramax, Tarantino’s attorney argued that the director was acting within his “Reserved Rights,” specifically the right to “screenplay publication.” Ultimately, figuring out the limits on those reserved rights (especially interactive media and screenplay publication) will be critical, as NFTs were not something studios or filmmakers were thinking about in the early ’90s.
“This group chose to recklessly, greedily, and intentionally disregard the agreement that Quentin signed instead of following the clear legal and ethical approach of simply communicating with Miramax about his proposed ideas. This one-off effort devalues the NFT rights to Pulp Fiction, which Miramax intends to maximize through a strategic, comprehensive approach,” said Proskauer Rose LLP partner Bart Williams, who is representing Miramax, in a statement to THR. “Miramax will defend all of its rights in regard to its library, including rights relating to NFTs, and will not allow Quentin’s representatives to deceive others into believing they have the authority to make similar deals in violation of the rights agreements they signed.”
NFTs have become a hot commodity in Hollywood, with stars and studios all vying for a piece of the pie. ViacomCBS, which is Miramax’s controlling shareholder, recently announced a deal with the NFT company Recur to create NFTs based on its intellectual property, while Warner Bros. and Nifty’s is launching an NFT avatar project based on the Matrix film franchise.
Nov. 17, 2 pm PST Updated with Tarantino attorney statement.