The giant lizard usually brings death and destruction and of late lawsuits too. With the long festering battle between Legendary Pictures and ejected producers Roy Lee, Dan Lin and Doug Davison over the 2014 blockbuster scheduled to head to trial this summer, a new legal clash has erupted today on the Croisette. This time it is Godzilla rights holders Toho going after Voltage Pictures Tuesday in federal court for copyright infringement over the Nacho Vigalondo helmed and Anne Hathaway pic Colossal (read it here). Voltage and Vigalondo are selling Colossal in Cannes this year but Toho want the American courts to shut it down. They also want unspecified damages of over $150,000 per infringement from Voltage and Vigalondo’s “ill-gotten gains. “A Voltage spokesperson in L.A. said the company had no comment on the matter.
With a Garth Edwards Godzilla sequel from Legendary set for 2018, Toho obviously had a lot to say and show in their complaint today. Citing and show an alleged May 9 email from Voltage to “potential investors,” agents and others, claiming Colossal was about Tokyo being “under attack by Godzilla and a giant robot,” the Japanese company also claimed that Vigalondo’s director’s showed a silhouette of the monster on its cover as well as images inside of “Toho’s series of Godzilla films, the 2014 Godzilla Film, and authorized Godzilla merchandise.” Noting past interview where Vigalondo said he was going to make “the cheapest Godzilla movie ever,” the 6-claim complaint also claims to show a poster in Voltage’s Cannes suite of the movie that looks like Godzilla in action.
“There is nothing subtle about defendants’ conduct,” says the legal action by Aaron Moss and Charles Shepard of LA firm Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger LLP filed today on behalf of Toho Co. Ltd “They are expressly informing the entertainment community that they are making a Godzilla film and are using the Godzilla trademark and images of Toho’s protected character to generate interest in and to obtain financing for their project,” the jury trial seeking filing adds. “That anyone would engage in such blatant infringement of another’s intellectual property is wrong enough. That defendants, who are known for zealously protecting their own copyrights, would do so is outrageous in the extreme.”
Voltage were very vigilant legally in the past over issues like piracy when it came to films like Oscar winners The Hurt Locker, which Voltage boss Nicolas Chartier was a producer on and Dallas Buyers Club, which Chartier was an EP on – now they seem to be on the other side.