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I would like to write a book that is a sequel to a 2009 movie. I worked out a screenplay but it seems clear that the movie industry will not work on a sequel without permission of the rights owners of the original even if it passes the derivative work test.

I have tried to contact the originators of the movie but their web site says “Please be aware that any pitches or screenplays will be deleted. We are not looking for other people’s ideas.” So it seems that selling the screenplay will go nowhere.

If however I write a novel that takes over where the movie left off that alludes to the plot of the movie as historical events and recycles a few of the characters, would that pass a reasonable derivative work test?

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If you “recycle a few characters” you are most certainly creating a derivative work.

There are borderline cases like “The Other Log if Phileas Fogg” by Philipp Jose Farmer. Which is probably not derived from Jules Verne even though it’s the same names and the same journey as “Around the World In 80 Days”.

What companies put in their website is to protect them from being sued - if they make a sequel themselves and you recognise similarities with your “sequel” you have not a leg to stand on. You’d have to contact the right people and convince them to read your script to have any chance. Having a name in the industry, or anywhere in writing, would be essential.

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  • Seems then that my best bet is to go the novel route and make it sufficiently dissimilar that it is not derivative. Since it is set in a different place that may not be too hard. – PhilipM Feb 11 at 10:56
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That is definitely a derivative work

You can’t do that without permission

One of the rights that copyright gives is the exclusive right to decide who can make derivative works.

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  • My best bet it seems is to go the novel route and make it dissimilar to avoid “derivative”. Since it is set in a different place that may not be too hard; editing a few details so it lacks a direct connection will not be a lot of effort as I need to translate the screenplay to the new format anyway. The movie thing is harder anyway as I have no industry contacts so even if I do make it less derivative, there are a lot of hurdles to clear to get it noticed. On the off chance that I could change their level of interest I emailed them to ask if they would be willing to cede sequel rights. – PhilipM Feb 11 at 11:02
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    If you start with the film and then try to make it "dissimilar" it's still likely to be derivative. Not a book about a wizardress named Hotter Perry at a wizarding school in China, who doesn't wear any glasses and has no scar on her head. Write a novel, and ignore that film completely. – gnasher729 Feb 11 at 11:11

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