Hard to tell if it’s more paralegal than paranormal but something is definitely haunting The Conjuring franchise Warner Bros is trying to create. Today the studio and its New Line division were among the defendants named in another breach of contract lawsuit by producer Tony DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media. This time 87-year-old Lorraine Warren herself, whose investigations into the seemingly supernatural with her late husband were the basis for last year’s thriller, was also listed as a defendant. Filed in federal court in Texas like last month’s suit, today’s complaint (read it here) seeking a jury trial also wants to stop any sequels going forward; a declaratory judgment of rights; and a series of unspecified actual, punitive and statutory damages likely to run into the millions. And what does the other side say? “We have not been served,” a WB spokesman told me today.
Like the March 28 complaint, the new 33-page suit comes from DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media over announced sequels to the hit feature film. This time DeRosa-Grund has brought some company and claims of copyright infringement to the party. Alleging that a re-publication of the decades old book The Demonologist: The Extraordinary Career Of Ed & Lorraine Warren was “fraudulently concealed” and shifted to a new publisher without his consent by Warren and her son-in-law Tony Spera, author Gerald Brittle has now joined DeRosa-Grund in his legal pursuit. Besides reiterating almost verbatim claims of the previous and ongoing suit, today’s filing alleges there is new fraud and corporate skullduggery afoot. “Plaintiffs believe that New Line is attempting to justify their actions and to circumvent the OQA, Amendment and Producer Agreement by attempting to claim that their productions based upon the Annabelle and The Enfield Poltergeist Case Files are somehow based upon a parallel set of rights to those owned by Evergreen and Mr. DeRosa-Grund, namely, rights in connection with chapters from The Demonologist acquired from Mrs. Warren and/or Mr. Spera and Graymalkin Media, LLC,” says today’s filing.
Since its release last July, The Conjuring has made more $318 million worldwide. Based on that, WB announced on February 25 that The Conjuring 2 would be coming out on October 23, 2015. There also is a low-budget pic Annabelle directed by Conjuring cinematographer John R. Leonetti and executive produced by Conjuring helmer James Wan scheduled to come out via New Line this October.
As in the previous and now parallel suit, Sanford L. Dow of Houston firm Dow Golub Remels & Beverly reps DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen as well as Brittle. Charles Grimes and Michael Patrick of Norwalk, CT-based Grimes LLC are acting as Of Counsel to the plaintiffs.