9 Major Legal Moments in the Film Industry

Films and filmmakers are normally sued for plagiarism, inaccurate details regarding true events, and copyright infringement. In other cases, people sue movies to make a quick buck. Here are nine major legal moments in the film industry:

1. Drive (2011)

In October 2011, Sarah Deming from Michigan sued FilmDistrict Distribution and Emagine Novi movie for creating a misleading Drive movie trailer. The movie starred Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, and Carey Mulligan. Deming alleged that the distributor of the film promoted the movie as a resemblance of the Fast and Furious movie, or similar films. The plaintiff was disappointed that Drive was a methodological art movie that was far from a race or chase action film.
2. Captain Philips (2013)
Captain Philips is a movie that narrates the heroic tale of Captain Richard Philips who captained the Mv Maersk Alabama. It explains his 2009 encounter with the Somali pirates who hijacked his cargo ship. The Lawsuit brought against the shipping company claims that the crew members together with the Navy were the real heroes against the Somali pirates and not Captain Philips as suggested by the movie.
3. Borat (2006)
In 2006, two fraternity brothers from the University of South Carolina filed a suit against Borat’s movie studio and filmmakers for defamation. The comedy film brought out the brothers making sexist and racist comments while heavily intoxicated on camera. The brothers, Justin Seay and Christopher Rotunda had already signed a release form that prevented them from taking legal action against the creators of the film. Hence, the lawsuit was denied by a Los Angeles judge in 2007.
4. Black Swan (2010)
In 2011, a pair of interns working on Black Swan movie sued Fox. Alexander Footman who worked in production, and Eric Glatt who worked in accounting, did not receive college credit or any pay as compensation for their work. They alleged that it was a violation of federal and state labor laws. In addition to asking for compensation and class credits, the plaintiffs asked the court for an injunction preventing Fox from using unpaid interns during future productions. The judge ruled in their favor.
5. The Hangover II (2011)
In 2011, Warner Bros was sued by Victor Whitmill regarding copyright infringement in The Hangover II. In the movie, Stu wakes up in a Bankok hotel with a tribal face tattoo similar to Mike Tyson’s. Whitmill designed the tattoo particularly for Tyson and therefore alleged the work was copyrighted. Warner Bros. settled the claim for an amount that was not disclosed.
6. Avatar (2009)
In 2013, William Rodger, an album cover artist, sued Twentieth Century Fox and James Cameron for the Avatar’s alien planet design claiming copyright infringement. William claimed that the look of Pandora planet in Avatar resembled fantasy landscapes shown in his artwork on Dragon’s Dream, Views, and Magnetic Storm books.
7. Pixar Animation
In 2009, Luxo, a Norwegian manufacturer of lamps, filed a lawsuit against Walt Disney and Pixar. Pixar was selling lamps similar to Luxo Jr. lamp with a unique Blu-ray release of the movie UP without seeking Luxo’s permission. The lawsuit also alleged that Walt Disney was using the Luxo brand name on an animatronic lamp that was six feet tall at Hollywood Studios inside Walt Disney World in Florida. The lawsuit was withdrawn when Luxo and Disney reached a settlement agreement.
8. Natural Born Killers (1994)
In 1995, Benjamin James and his girlfriend Sarah Edmondson went on a spree of violent crimes through Louisiana and Mississippi after watching Natural Born Killers. In Louisiana, Sarah shot Patsy Byers, an owner of a convenience store, making her quadriplegic. In 1996, Patsy sued the assailants and makers of Natural Born Killers movie. She claimed the film’s violence influenced Benjamin and Sarah to do the same. The case was dismissed.
9. The Matrix (1999)
In 1999, Sophie Stewart sued Warner Bros, producer Joel Silver, and Wachowskis who were The Matrix creators, claiming that they copied her story called the Third Eye that she wrote in the 1980s. The lawsuit was dropped in 2005 since she failed to appear for preliminary hearings in addition to not providing evidence.

These nine movies that were sued for millions of dollars are a representation of major legal moments in the film industry.

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