Judge Puts The Kibosh On LYNYRD SKYNYRD Movie

Participation of former member, Artimus Pyle is the issue...

August 29, 2017

Randy Miramontez | Dreamstime

The planned movie about the tragic 1977 plane crash that forever impacted Southern Rockers LYNYRD SKYNYRD will NOT make it to the big screen. The recent ruling from a U.S. District Court judge honors the request made on behalf of the families of RONNIE VAN ZANT and CASSIE and STEVE GAINES, who all perished in the crash (along w/ the pilot, co-pilot, and the band's road manager). The plan for the movie (Street Survivor: The True Story of the Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash) was first announced in June of 2016 by (former) SKYNYRD drummer, ARTIMUS PYLE, who wanted to share with the fans the music and the memories that he personally held so dear. At the time, Pyle said, “I want the movie to portray my band members the way they were...real, funny people who loved the music, loved the success that allowed us to be able to travel the world and play for kings and queens all over this planet. Of course, there is the tragedy, us being on this airplane that ran out of fuel after a performance in Greenville, South Carolina that became the last place Ronnie Van Zant ever sang ‘Free Bird.’ It’s incredibly personal and passionate to me and I want the movie going public to be able to share the laughs and the tears.”  Along with the Van Zant and Gaines families, Skynyrd guitarist, GARY ROSSINGTON also joined in the lawsuit to prevent the movie's production. The issue wasn't the movie itself, but rather it had to do with Mr. Pyle's involvement with the project. It was reported that Pyle was slated to be "consultant and co-producer" and was to receive a 5% cut of the film's net receipts. The drummer's involvement ran counter to a 1987 consent order that "prohibited him and his fellow band mates from undertaking in any band-related project without the participation of at least three surviving members from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s pre-crash era."  While the film's production company, Cleopatra Films, claims first amendment rights entitle them to make the film, lawyers representing the surviving families claim that the movie company is indeed free to make the movie, but they cannot do it with the participation of Mr. Pyle as it is in violation of the 1987 consent order. So, no movie. In his closing statement, Judge Robert W. Sweet said, “Cleopatra is prohibited from making its movie about Lynyrd Skynyrd when its partner (Mr. Pyle) substantively contributes to the project in a way that, in the past, he willingly bargained away the very right to do just that; in any other circumstance, Cleopatra would be as ‘free as a bird’ to make and distribute its work.” Rock On!