I recently received an email from a major film studio saying they're interested in my book. Obviously this is really exciting news, but something feels off about the email. They're asking for some quite personal information and also for some money for a special kind of copyright.
So, before I reply, I just wanted to check if this kind of thing is normal? And is it legit?
You are 100% correct in being cautious here. This is not the way studios go about optioning books, and you should never expect to pay for the privilege. They should be paying you!
This is a scam and one that has been ongoing for some time - the name of the production company changes from time to time, but the wording of the email and the basic premise remains the same. Writer Beware has blogged about it a couple of times, here and here.
It is very unlikely that any legitimate publishing industry professional will contact you out of the blue for any reason, so any time you're contacted in this way, be suspicious. Most editors and agents are far too busy with their existing and querying clients to be cold-calling authors they have no connection to, so it is unlikely that an offer that comes in like this is anything other than a scam.
So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but better to know before you get scammed, right?