Warner Bros Facing $900 Million Lawsuit Over The Conjuring
Posted 2017/04/01 3252 0
The Conjuring series has been haunted by lawsuits for years, and the stakes are only getting higher.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Gerald Brittle, who wrote the book The Demonologist, is claiming that Warner Bros. based the horror franchise on his 1980 book The Demonologist, which tells the allegedly true stories of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. In a 355-page amended complaint filed in Virginia federal court, he's going after Warner Bros., New Line Productions and director James Wan. He first filed the suit back in November.
Brittle alleges The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2 and Annabelle infringe on his exclusive rights to create derivative works based on the Warrens' cases. He says, in a 1978 agreement for his book, the couple agreed to a no "competing work" provision that is still in effect. Under it, Brittle says, the Warrens aren't allowed to make or contract any works based on the "same subject" as The Demonologist, specifically their "lives and experiences as paranormal investigators."
"[W]hen Lorraine Warren granted the Defendants the right to use the Warren Case Files, which the Defendants themselves repeatedly state their movies are based on, she could not have done so because she had years earlier contractually granted that exclusive right to use those same Warren cases, Warren Case Files and related materials to the Plaintiff," writes attorney Patrick C. Henry II. "Lorraine Warren had nothing to convey."
Had defendants done a chain-of-title search, Brittle claims, they would have found they needed his, not Lorraine's, permission and support to legally produce their films. Warren and Brittle initially gave their subsidiary motion picture rights to book publisher Prentice Hall, which later transferred them to Brittle with Warren's agreement.
"It is very hard to believe that a large conglomerate such as Warner Brothers, with their army of lawyers and who specializes in intellectual property rights deals, would not have found The Demonologist book or the deals related to it, or Brittle for that matter," Henry writes, adding that the "only logical conclusion" is that defendants knew about the deals and ignored them thinking "they would never get caught."
The author further claims New Line explicitly told The Conjuring screenwriters not to read his book because the studio didn't have the rights to it. "Defendants have built a billion-dollar franchise based on rights they knew they did not possess," Henry writes. "They ignored this 'inconvenient' fact and willfully proceeded anyway."
Brittle is seeking nearly a billion dollars, and wants an injunction to stop the release of Annabelle 2, which is set to come out August 11. He also wants to stop any other films connected to the Warrens from being made, like the previously announced spinoff about The Conjuring 2's demonic nun.