Battle Over Time Bandits

Dueling remakes of the Terry Gilliam classic cause legal squabble

A legal battle over the 1981 Terry Gilliam classic Time Bandits could mercifully derail both a remake and a miniseries spinoff of the dark comedy — for now.

RHI Entertainment, which boasts 105 Emmy Awards and 15 Golden Globes, is suing Handmade Films, the production company started by Beatle George Harrison and its parent company Almorah Services, to prevent the planned movie reboot, claiming to own the rights for a TV miniseries.

RHI, formerly Hallmark Entertainment and producers of Lonesome Dove and other made-for-cable entertainment, say they bought the television rights to Time Bandits from Handmade in August 2001. As part of the deal, Handmade would be blocked from producing a remake for four years after a RHI-produced miniseries aired.

The company claims that they doled out $1.5 million for the rights and coughed up another $275,000 to bring Gilliam, a former Monty Python member whose credits also include Brazil and The Fisher King, in on the project as a consultant.

Under the contract,  RHI claims to have all television rights to the $40 million grossing film and the right of first refusal for a theatrical remake. For its part, Handmade disagrees and in March announced plans to start shooting this summer for a fall 2012 release.

Handmade did not immediately respond to calls, and RHI declined to comment.

Both companies could use a win after a tumultuous few years. RHI filed for bankruptcy protection in December 2010. The production company, which was started by Robert Halmi in 1979, was purchased by

Hallmark Greeting Cards in 1994 and then sold back to Halmi in 2005 with a $600 million debt load, according to reports.

Handmade, which also produced Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, hasn't fared much better. Founded by Harrison to finance Monty Python's The Life of Brian, the company has been delisted from the stock market three times since going public. Almorah Services, which took over in early 2010, was supposed to be the salvation for the British movie house. But since then there have been a series of layoffs and top level resignations.

Publish date: April 19, 2011 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT