A filmmaker who wants to make a movie using someone else's script must buy the motion picture rights to that script in order to make the movie. If you can, you should try to buy the entire copyright to the script, not just the motion picture rights. Remember, the more rights you own, the more ways you can exploit those rights.To purchase the rights to a screenplay, the filmmaker should use a Screenplay Purchase Agreement.
Typically, a filmmaker doesn't want to buy a script unless he knows that he can get it made. The filmmaker needs a little time to secure funding, interest actors, and hopefully, set up a distribution deal. However, the filmmaker can't attach all of those elements (financiers, talent, distributors) to the project unless the filmmaker has the right to make the film from the screenplay. This is where the Option Agreement comes in handy. An Option Agreement is a contract which gives the filmmaker the exclusive right to buy the screenplay copyright during a defined period of time.
If the producer options the screenplay, he has not yet purchased all of the rights to the screenplay. Purchasing a screenplay during the option period is called exercising the option. If the filmmaker chooses not to exercise the option, and the option expires, the right to sell the screenplay reverts back to the screenwriter.
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