Terry Gilliam Flies Too Close To The Sun, Loses Rights To 'The Man Who Killed Don Quixote'

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote's curse has struck again. After Terry Gilliam had seemingly won a decades-long battle against God and the universe with the film's triumphant screening at Cannes last month, the embattled director has been dealt yet another blow. Despite a Paris court ruling in his favor prior to the Cannes screening, Gilliam has now lost The Man Who Killed Don Quixote to his former producer Paul Branco.

After decades of behind-the-scenes strife and arduous legal battles, Gilliam had finally crossed the finish line. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was in the can and had screened to film festival audiences (to admittedly mixed reviews). Gilliam's passion project, which had first began its notoriously troubled journey to the big screen in 1990, simply awaited a distributor.

But of course, that was not the end of this movie's infinite supply of troubles.

Indiewire reports that the Paris Court of Appeal has reversed the initial ruling that granted Gilliam the rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. The appeals court judge ruled in favor of the film's former producer Paul Branco, who sued Gilliam over rights to the project and attempted to block the film's premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Gilliam managed to win the court battle at the Paris District Court and screen the film at Cannes's closing night, but now the Paris Court of Appeal has added another twist onto the protracted 18-month legal battle between Gilliam and Branco.

The appeals court judge ruled that the contract drawn up between Gilliam and Branco in 2016 granting the Portuguese producer rights to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote remains intact. The filmmaker has also been ordered to pay Branco's Alfama Films €10,000 ($11,600) in fees. Branco told Screen Daily that the "film was made illegally" and that he would be seeking damages from all the parties who had produced the film without the consent of Alfama Films. He continued:

"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 authorisation 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."

By "everyone," Branco means that he will not only seek damages against Gilliam but also "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."

That's a lot of people to target over the rights to a film that Branco has not been involved with for two years, but Branco seems determined that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote would not see the light of day. On Gilliam's part, the director asserts that Branco did not fulfill his part of the contract when he didn't deliver the promised funding for the production, leading Gilliam to seek out another producer.

But if we know Gilliam, he won't take this latest setback lying down. He's survived natural disasters, actor departures, heart attacks, and countless other obstacles to bring this movie to life. There's no way he'll let The Man Who Killed Don Quixote die.