Monday, August 13, 2012

Who Owns Chandler's Literary Rights?

A question I often receive via email--generally from someone looking to reprint one of Chandler's works--is who owns the rights to Raymond Chandler's literary works.

For many years the Chandler estate was represented by Ed Victor, Ltd., a London literary agency (which, as it happens, represents John Banville/Benjamin Black, who just announced he's writing a new Philip Marlowe novel, to be released in 2013). In 1989, Victor sold the rights to all of Chandler's fiction to a private trust, which in turn sold them in 2005 to Chorion, a media and "brand management" company that also owned the rights to Agatha Christie's and George Simenon's works in addition to a slew of children's book characters like Paddington Bear, Peter Rabbit, and Noddy.

Chorion, to be more detailed, actually purchased 75% of a new corporation called Raymond Chandler Ltd., with the remaining quarter owned by the Chandler estate. At the time of the purchase, Chorion promised that the market was ripe for a receiving new versions of Chandler's stories, in particular hinting that new motion picture and television productions were in the works. The last time a film version of one of Chandler's novels was released was in 1978, with the Robert Mitchum version of The Big Sleep.

Nothing much came forth, though. In 2006 the firm, then publicly-traded, was taken private by a private equity firm, but it was heavily loaded with debt and in 2011 its chairman, Lord Waheed Alli, was forced to resign and creditors appointed DC Advisory Partners to begin dismantling the business. Earlier this year, Chorion started selling off many of its literary properties, including unloading the Agatha Christie estate to Acorn Media Group, to service their debts. Chandler's estate is among the last of its intellectual property assets remaining.

It may be only a matter of time before the Chandler rights are sold as well, but the recent announcement of Banville/Black's planned Philip Marlowe--which, apparently, was commissioned by the Chandler estate--shows at least a little sign of activity.


1 comment:

nounwoundedsoldiersblog said...

What is the latest information on who owns Raymond Chandler literary rights? And how does one contact the Chandler Estate? Thanks for any information.