Lawsuits: The New Hollywood Trend

lawsuit01.jpgI’ve decided to sue Film School Rejects. I’m doing it partially for wrongful imprisonment and the emotional damage I suffered a few weeks ago when a mustachioed Robert Fure out-bearded me and threw an empty bottle of beer at my torso. Of course, I’m doing it mostly because it’s the hip Hollywood thing to do.

If you’ve been too busy hitting the clubs, flashing your privates and carrying around your miniature teacup chi-poodle to notice, the newest hot trend is suing the pants off someone.

20th Century Fox, being the innovators they are, started the trend by initiating lawsuits against Warner Brothers over the production and release rights to Watchmen. According to Fox, they acquired all the necessary rights for the 12-issue icon between 1986 and 1990. After some false starts and shake ups, the rights were transferred to producer Lawrence Gordon with the understanding that he’d pay a buy-out fee if he chose to take the project elsewhere. Now, after the sets have been built and the cast has memorized its lines, Fox is claiming they either see the dough or the project never sees the light of day.

Not to be outdone, the Tolkien estate has crawled out of The Shire to sue New Line Cinema. Remember the ungodly amount of money The Lord of the Rings trilogy brought in? Something to the tune of $6 billion? It turns out (allegedly) that the Tolkien estate never saw a dime of it, and now they want their payday. Unfortunately, this little flap has made them skeptical about New Line’s ability to profit share on their next project, The Hobbit, so it’s been placed on the chopping block as well.

Continuing the theme of blockbuster films not paying out, screenwriter Benedict Fitzgerald is suing Mel Gibson for misrepresenting the production scope and profits of The Passion of the Christ. According to Fitzgerald, he was hired to write a script, being told the budget would be no more than $7 million. The suit claims this number was somewhere closer to the $25 to $50 million range. The writer is also miffed that he wasn’t given more money after the film became a huge success, garnering over $370 million worldwide.

But it isn’t all about money. Nicolas Cage, best known as Ghostrider or the guy from National Treasure, is suing Kathleen Turner, best known for being famous in the 1980s, over claims made in her forthcoming autobiography that Cage stole dogs and drove drunk – though not necessarily at the same time – during their filming of Peggy Sue Got Married.

Libel, slander, profit-doctoring, Ex Parte Milligan, Semper Fi Tyrannosaurus Rex — the legal hits keep coming. The big question is – why now? Warner has been in production for months on Watchmen. New Line reported The Lord of the Rings gross profits years ago. Same story with The Passion. As usual, the only story that really makes sense is an actor going after another actor because of a tell-all book that hasn’t even been released to the public yet. Thanks, Hollywood, for at least making a little sense.

The only upsetting thing is that some really cool movies may not make it out alive. Coming this close to seeing Watchmen and a del Toro helmed Hobbit series shine on the big screen only to have them snatched away because of legal troubles would be heartbreaking.

So pour out your Cristal, keep your knees together and toss your pooch out of the limousine window. If you want to be hip in Hollywood, you better be suing or being sued.

Of course, don’t actually throw the dog out while the limo is moving or PETA might sue you.

A veteran of writing about movies for nearly a decade, Scott Beggs has been the Managing Editor of Film School Rejects since 2009. Despite speculation, he is not actually Walter Mathau's grandson. See? He can't even spell his name right.

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