Selma filmmaker Ava DuVernay had to rewrite the speeches spoken by Martin Luther King Jr. in the film because she didn’t have permission to use the speeches. Dr. King’s words are the intellectual property of the Martin Luther King Jr. estate. When DuVernay researched the rights to the speeches for Selma, she discovered that the speeches had already been assigned to another filmmaker, Steven Spielberg.
DuVernay, who must have been crushed when she realized she couldn’t use King’s actual words/speeches in Selma, disguised her contempt with excitement when asked about it by Gwen Ifill on PBS. “What a film that’s going to be. He’s supposed to be doing a whole life, from cradle to the grave film.”