We haven’t reported much on the progress of Raging Bull II, mostly because making a sequel to something as beloved as Raging Bull thirty-some years after the release of the original and without the involvement of any of the iconic names who made the first so beloved is a dumb idea unworthy of much attention; but let’s do a quick rundown of the particulars anyway. The subject of the first film, Jake LaMotta, sold the rights to the sequel of his life story to a company called RB II Productions. This has led to co-writer/director Martin Guigui putting a film together that’s going to work as part prequel and part sequel to Martin Scorsese’s 1980 film, Raging Bull. This new film, which stars William Forsythe as LaMotta, will focus on the period of the boxer’s life before Raging Bull took place, as well as on what happened to him after. It’s currently filming in Los Angeles. For now.
The interesting news about this ill-advised and sure-to-be-reviled project is that the studio behind the original film, MGM, is trying to get it shut down. A report from Deadline Coventry says that the studio has filed a complaint against LaMotta and RB II Productions stating that, due to an agreement drawn up in 1976, MGM still has the rights to the boxer’s original memoirs as well as right of first refusal to any “owner-written sequel.” Seeing as LaMotta never took the idea of a sequel to MGM, and RB II Productions has ignored any of MGM’s pleas that they stop production on Raging Bull II, the issue is now a legal matter.
But what exactly is MGM’s complaint demanding from RB II? Turns out, quite a bit. They feel that, seeing as the producers of the sequel are “publicly associating” their sequel with the original Raging Bull in a way that’s “plainly intended to create confusion in the marketplace and to trade off the value” of Scorsese’s original film, production should be immediately shut down. In addition to this they want assurance that what has been filmed will never see the light of day, and they believe that they’re entitled to compensatory, punitive, and exemplary damages “awarded in an amount sufficient to punish the RB II defendants and to deter those who would commit or knowingly seek to profit from similar actions, now or in the future.”
So, not only do they want to erase Raging Bull II from history, it also sounds like they intend on financially ruining the people trying to put together the sequel. Clearly they’re doing us all a favor by sparing us a couple months of bitching on the Internet about how stupid an idea making a Raging Bull sequel was, but do you feel like they’re taking things a little too far in trying to shut the film down as well as seek damages? And do we have anybody in the readership who dabbles in law and might be able to give us an idea of what their chances are? Is Raging Bull II ready to take a dive?