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If you're a biopic fan, or even just a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, you may be sad to learn that Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash is not a title that you'll be seeing on a marquee any time soon. However, if you're a law student, or a casual fan of court judgments, your chances of hearing about this movie are better, as the film has been shut down by a legal agreement forged almost 30 years ago.
The already in-production film was the subject of a permanently blocking injunction that was decided in a court proceeding on Monday. Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash was allegedly about the life of former drummer and surviving member Artimus Pyle, and the aftermath of the 1977 plane crash that killed several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd's line-up, including lead singer Ronny Van Zant. However, the unclear distinction of whether or not the film was based on Pyle's story, or the story of the band as a whole, was what doomed the project to its ultimate fate.
Apparently, the surviving members of Lynyrd Skynyrd entered into a consent order in 1988 that would prevent anyone telling the band's story without their approval. Artimus Pyle had no such approval, so if the film's story centered more on his portion of history, he'd have been in the clear. Considering the level of involvement that Pyle had with the film could have made a convincing case for the film being more of a Pyle-centric affair. But the decision reported by Reuters ruled that Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash was more about the entire band's legacy, rather than just Pyle's story, and so the former drummer, as well as the production company involved, Cleopatra Records Inc., are now out a motion picture.
How Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash came to be, much less enter into production without confronting this hurdle, is something that THR covered in their coverage of the matter. So the story goes, Artimus Pyle warned Cleopatra Records that Lynyrd Skynyrd's remaining members weren't afraid to sue people over rights. However, the consent order wasn't mentioned, which lead to the mess that now embroils the destined to be legendary collapse of the film's production.
On one hand, it's sad that the Lynyrd Skynyrd biopic is going to be prevented from seeing the light of day, as it's a story that's resonated through rock history and could make an interesting film. But similar to what we saw with the earlier incarnation of the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic, if the band doesn't approve then no matter how good your project may be it's expendable in the eyes of the rights holders. It's certainly not the first time we've seen an injunction proceeding threaten a film's release status, but in the cast of Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash, it's one of the few cases that succeeds in its aim to prevent a project from existing outside of its legal rights.
While it doesn't seem like all the parties involved will be able to reach a future agreement that'd allow the release of Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash in theaters, we'll cover any further developments on the project, should they occur.