In 1928, Philip Francis Nowlan wrote a Buck Rogers novella called Armageddon 2419 A.D.
Recently, as reported in The Hollywood Reporter, various filmmakers and producers seemed interested in making a movie based on the novella. But, it appears, that interest was quelled when a Buck Rogers publisher’s family trust claimed that copyright still subsists in the novella, and that a license would be required to make the movie. A court was asked to rule on whether the original Buck Rogers novella had entered the public domain. But, the court refused to consider the question, indicating that it lacked immediacy – since no studio seemed firmly committed to producing a movie based on it.
So, there it stands. And, it seems, the Buck Rogers novella may remain in a sort of suspended animation for some time to come. The question of its copyright / public domain status may yet be revived, in some distant future, should any navigate a license to produce a movie based on it, and/or should some intrepid studio “commit” to the project.