Friday, 6 July 2012

Hollywood Babble On & On #926: Litigation Lunacies


It's been a while since I've written about yet another lawsuit involving the Weinstein Co. but this one is the sort of story that requires one of those "this is the moral of the story" moments they used to tack onto the end of He-Man cartoons.

First the story....

In 2005 The Weinstein Co. had a hit with the movie Hoodwinked, an animated comedy that was made for less than $8 million that ended up making $110,000,000 at the box office. A deal was made with the film's makers for a sequel Hoodwinked 2: Hood VS Evil, and another film Escape From Planet Earth, about stranded aliens imprisoned in Area 51 plotting their escape.

Hoodwinked 2: Hood VS Evil was made for $30 million, and the Weinsteins pledged to release it on a certain date that coincided with the release of the toy line, then that date passed, they pledged another date, that too passed, the producers sued, and the film was eventually released only to be a massive box office bomb because any momentum it once possessed had long been wasted.

Meanwhile the guys who made Hoodwinked, were forced off Escape From Planet Earth and the project given to other people. 

The filmmakers and their producing partners are suing for $50 million, saying the film was wrongfully taken from them and destroyed by the out of control and hubris-happy Weinsteins. Among their demands was a chance to see the film that's being made without them, which a court recently awarded them as an essential part of letting the lawsuit go forward.
Don't do business with the Weinstein Company, the only person on your side who will make any money off the deal will be your lawyer.


Ex-boxer Jake LaMotta, the subject of Martin Scorcese's classic film Raging Bull, is being sued by MGM for trying to make a sequel without them.

You see Scorcese's 1980 movie was based on LaMotta's 1970 memoir, titled Raging Bull: My Story. In the time since the film came out LaMotta wrote another memoir, and now he and some producers are making that into a movie titled Raging Bull 2.

MGM, who owns United Artists the studio that released the original Raging Bull are claiming that LaMotta violated the contract he signed back in the 1970s that gave them first look at any sequel.

They are also complaining that the producers, RB II productions, are implying that the film is a direct sequel to their Raging Bull, when none of the people involved in that project are connected to the new film in any way.

LaMotta may have believed that such a contract had an expiration date that was long past, and that even if he did they were likely to pass on the project since the original film was only a modest commercial success, and any sequel without director Martin Scorcese and star Robert DeNiro would probably be doomed to fail critically and commercially.

MGM is seeking all sorts of compensatory, punitive, and vengeful damages against RB II productions, and I think that they might have a case. Not just for violating the "first look" clause they had in the contract with LaMotta, but for diluting the "brand" of a movie hailed as a classic.

Imagine you're the studio behind a critically acclaimed classic movie, are you going to let someone just slap together a "sequel" to that film without suing them into the stone age?

Never. If anyone's going to make an awful sequel to a classic, it's going to be the studio itself screwing up its own cinematic legacy.

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