A trio of street artists are claiming that the Terry Gilliam directed The Zero Theorem has copied a mural they did in Buenos Aires and they’ve taken legal action to stop the upcoming release of the sci-fi pic. “In violation of U.S. and international law, Defendants—a crew of longstanding Hollywood ‘insiders’ led by repeat infringer Terry Gilliam—have blatantly and intentionally infringed, and are continuing to infringe, Plaintiffs’ intellectual property in the Copyrighted Artwork, by copying the work and using it in connection with the promotion and distribution of Defendants’ motion picture film, The Zero Theorem, which has already been released in foreign countries and is due to be released in the U.S. in a few weeks’ time,” says the highly illustrated jury trial demanding filing (read it here).
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Having debuted at the Venice Film Festival last year, the Amplify distributed The Zero Theorem, starring Christoph Waltz, Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton among others, is set to be released on September 19, with a home video release to soon follow – though not if Franco Fasoli, Nicolas Escalada and Derek Mehaffey get their way.
“Plaintiffs seek preliminary and permanent injunctive relief and other equitable relief; an order enjoining Defendants from further distribution of a motion picture film or any related promotional materials incorporating an infringing artwork, and directing Defendants to surrender for destruction all infringing materials; and damages, costs and fees,” the trio’s complaint filed August 12 in federal court in Illinois says. Their three claim suit alleges that images seen prominently and repeatedly in the pic blatantly copies work they did together back in 2010.
To make their point, the three try to show with the vast array of images and pictures in their complaint that similar faces and undershirt wearing animal figures from the mural were used in the film. As is done in the filing, look at the picture from one of the main sets of the dystopian film above and the shot of the mural from Argentina here to the left. To further their claim, the trio notes that they registered the mural with the Copyright Office in Argentina, under the title Castillo effective on November 15, 2013.
Though Gilliam is but one of several defendants (including Amplify, Voltage Pictures, the Zanuck Co., Well GO USA, MediaPro Pictures and production designer David Warren) he gets a lot of venom from the plaintiffs. “This is not the first time that Defendant Gilliam has demonstrated a blatant disrespect for copyright law,” says the complaint citing a later settled dispute from the 1995 pic 12 Monkeys. “But clearly Mr. Gilliam did not learn his lesson, as the present action amply demonstrates,” it adds. Ouch – that’s supposed to hurt more than a spray can blast straight to the eyes, I guess.
The matter has been placed before Judge Robert W. Gettleman. Jami A. Gekas of Chicago firm Foley & Lardner LLP plus Diego Figueroa Rodriguez and Diego Fernandez are representing the plaintiffs.
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