New Star Wars film blockbuster fuels celeb estate valuation issue

The value of the estates of famous actors could get a shot in the arm thanks to the success of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. In the film, the late actor Peter Cushing was “digitally resurrected” and appears as the future Death Star commander. Some stars are now taking action, such as having themselves scanned, so they, too, can provide for their heirs when they’re in the hereafter, according to an article cited in BVWire.

Right of publicity: There can be a great deal of value in a celebrity’s posthumous right of publicity—a form of intellectual property that covers an individual’s likeness, name, signature, voice, and so on. True, celebrities have been re-created before in various commercial projects, but the technology has broken new ground with the latest film.

Determining the fair market value of a posthumous right of publicity can be difficult, and there can be wide swings in opinions of value. The estate of Michael Jackson valued his name and likeness at $2,105, but the IRS says the value is a whopping $434 million—quite a gap. This dispute is set to be resolved sometime this year. Also, whether a person’s right of publicity continues after death is a matter of state law—not all states recognize it.

Did you see Rogue One: A Star Wars Story? What did you think about the digitally created Cushing character? Did it look real to you? Use the comment section below!