Call it dueling shutterbugs.
Two projects about the real-life Bang Bang Club — a group of four daredevil war photographers in South Africa — are currently in development and racing to prep for production.
Not so strangely, both are titled “The Bang Bang Club.” But a major rights fight is expected between Emilio Estevez’s Avatar Entertainment and the producing team of A.J. Barber and Jo Jo Marr’s Arrival Entertainment.
Issue of rights
The squabble raises the thorny issue of distinguishing rights. In a story about four separate individuals, does buying the rights to one provide access to all four?
Estevez is planning to direct and star in his version, which will be financed by Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Intermedia with a $10 million budget. Robert Orr scripted. Shooting is expected to start April 6, 1998.
Barber and Marr have signed South African indie helmer Michael Oblowitz to direct their version of the international political drama. The pair has a script penned by Barber and Pete Riesenberg, but it has no financing in place yet.
Pics based on true story
The dueling pics are both based on the actual Bang Bang Club, a fearsome foursome that thrived on dodging bullets, getting “the shots” and covering wars. One of them, Ken Oosterbroek. was killed by a stray bullet from peacekeeping forces in South Africa on the eve of the country’s first free elections. Another, Kevin Carter, committed suicide.
The remaining two survivors, Greg Marinovich and Joao Silva, sold the rights to their story to Barber and Marr and are consultants on the project.
Estevez, meanwhile, nabbed rights from Oosterbroek’s wife and Carter’s family. Sources close to Estevez said that in his version Marinovich and Silva are fictionalized characters.
“He has no rights at all,” Marr said of the Estevez project. “It’s got our characters.”
Estevez reps counter that much of the story of the foursome is in the public domain, having been chronicled heavily by the news media.
“We’re under the impression that there is no real rights issue,” said Peter Richards, Estevez’s attorney. “Most of it is in the public domain and two of the main characters are dead.”
Teaming talks unsuccessful
Sources said that Estevez and Barber/Marr had discussions late last year about teaming up on the project, but couldn’t come to an understanding.
Oblowitz, who helmed the Gina Gershon/Billy Zane starrer “This World, Then the Fireworks,” was repped by Lucy Stille of Paradigm Agency in his deal.
Estevez is repped by Judy Hofflund of Hofflund/Polone Management.