“Hello Airmen,” says Tom Cruise in a line from the blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick. “This is your captain speaking. Today’s exercise is a dogfight.
Specifically, there is now a legal dogfight between Paramount Pictures, the film’s box office star, and the Israel-based widow and son of the author of the 1983 article that inspired the original film by 1986.
In a copyright infringement lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in California, Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay want unspecified but clearly substantial damages from the studio and, with a very odd sense of timing , an injunction to stop screenings and distribution of the film released on May 27. sequel, as well as other films in the franchise.
Call Top Gun: Maverick “derivative,” the Yonays represented by Marc Toberoff and Alex Kozinski allege that Paramount is “thumbing the law” that allows termination of rights after 35 years (read the court complaint here).
“These allegations are without merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves,” a Paramount spokesperson said today in response. The studio will obviously have to respond to the lawsuit in the federal role in due course.
In the May 1983 edition of California magazine, Ehud Yonay wrote “Top Guns”, about the pilots and the program “located in a second floor office cube at the east end of Hangar One in Miramar”. The piece was optioned as soon as possible and Yonay was quoted in the credits of the first Superior gun.
All cool as Iceman so far, right?
Well, yes, but then you come to the long delay Top Gun: Maverick and the rights to the article reverting to the Yonays in January 2020.
“Although the 2022 sequel clearly drifted from the story, Paramount consciously failed to obtain a new film license and ancillary rights in the copyrighted story after the Yonays reclaimed their right copyrighted on January 24, 2020,” reads the triple claim. , trial by jury requiring a civil complaint. “The Yonays contend and Paramount deny that the 2022 sequel does not qualify for ‘previous derivative works exception’ under 17 USC because it was not completed until long after January 24, 2020.”
While apparently not engaging deeply with the Yonays and attorneys, Paramount told the now plaintiffs last month that “the 2022 sequel was ‘sufficiently complete’ as of January 24, 2020 (the effective termination date) in a dishonest attempt to boot the 2022 sequel into the exception to the termination of “prior derivative works”.
So ladies and gentlemen and Bob, we have a showdown ourselves.
BTW – if you recognize the name Marc Toberoff, you’re G-force deluxe. The Toberoff & Associates founder took on Warner Bros and Marvel/Disney on behalf of the heirs and estates of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster and the great Jack Kirby. Currently, alongside this Superior gun action, Toberoff is locked in a war with Marvel over termination rights for characters created by the likes of the late Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Don Rico, Don Heck, Gene Colan and the still-living Larry Lieber.
Hang in there, there will be turbulence.