In what must feel like a never-ending franchise of the legal variety, Warner Bros was sued yet again this week over rights to blockbuster horror The Conjuring and its sequels and spinoffs. Demonologist author Gerald Brittle once again has gone after the studio as well director James Wan, screenwriters Chad Hayes and Carey Hayes, RatPac-Dune Productions and others for copyright infringement and more.
“This pattern of ongoing infringement by Defendants in the instant matter has caused Brittle irreparable harm,” says the seven-claim amended complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Virginia (read it here, but take a seat first). While not naming an actual number, the author of the 1980 book about Ed and Lorraine’s real-life investigations into the seemingly supernatural, which are unto themselves the basis of The Conjuring tales, is looking to get his hands on whatever the nearly $900 million box office franchise has made. The suit seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
“Brittle seeks disgorgement of all of Defendants’ profits derived from said infringement and an injunction to insure the pattern of infringement is stopped,” asserts the 355-page filing that attorneys Bradley Marrs and Patrick Henry II put before the court for their client. “Plaintiff contends that in the case of studio defendants New Line and Warner Brothers, the profits to be disgorged are not limited to box office profits or licenses fees generated for the Defendants’ from their infringing movies, but also include Defendants New Line and Warner Brothers’ profits which fall to the bottom line of their corporate parent, defendant Time Warner,” the filing adds, with not altogether connected remarks over WB’s now-concluded legal move against Innovative Artists last year over illegally distributed screeners and more. “Therefore, the ‘profits’ to be disgorged also include any increased value in Time Warner’s stock that is attributable to Defendants infringing movies as well as any portion of the pending sale of Time Warner, inclusive of any premium paid over Time Warner’s stock price, for said acquisition of the company.”
AKA – I want it all and more.
Contacted by Deadline, Warners said it has not been served and had “no comment” on the matter. Brittle first filed this case back on November 11.
This latest and let’s just say dense, sprawling, everything-and-the-Conjuring-sink filing comes after the studio, its New Line division and even the now 90-year-old Lorraine Warren herself, have been dragged into court over and over on the issues of the movies’ rights and ownership — all of which were rebuffed or withdrawn.
Still, the multiple attempts by producer Tony DeRosa-Grund and his Evergreen Media and more, and now Brittle again, who joined in a past suit in April 2014, are not that unexplainable when the first 2013-released Conjuring made more than $320 million at the box office in short order. Last year’s Wan-helmed The Conjuring 2 saw similar big-money success and, as my colleague Mike Fleming Jr. reported exclusively last month, Corin Hardy is set to direct the spinoff The Nun, which likely will be released in 2018. Annabelle, the first Conjuring spinoff, came out in October 2014 to gross over $256 million. With that kind of cash on the table, it’s no wonder a sequel was put into production and will be out on August 11 starring 24: Legacy’s Miranda Otto, among others.
Early last year, Brittle voluntarily dismissed “without prejudice” his part in the now-altogether-dead case against Lorraine Warren, Tony Spera and Graymalkin Media. Obviously, that was not the scribe’s last word on the matter of The Conjuring.