Jim and John Thomas, the brothers behind 1987’s Predator, have filed a lawsuit against Disney in order to recapture the rights of the franchise, per The Hollywood Reporter. The lawsuit revolves around copyright laws’ termination rights, which gives creators the possibility to cancel IP transfer after a certain period of time, usually 35 years.
In turn, Disney‘s 20th Century responded with their own lawsuit against the film’s original screenwriters. Disney, which inherited Fox’s franchises but also its legal troubles, is trying to argue the screenwriters didn’t comply with all the rules that a termination notice involves, by not giving the proper notice time. The Thomas brothers disagree, and state they filed all the right paperwork back in 2016, giving 20th Century plenty of advance notice to prepare for the loss of the Predator franchise by April 17, today at the time of this reporting.
There’s a lot of money involved in a franchise such as Predator, and both sides are ready to fight however they can. The 20th Century company, now part of the Disney empire, has the bigger guns, with a lot of extra cash to spend on its legal defense. The Thomas brothers, on the other hand, have copyright laws by their side, and, if proven that they followed the right procedures, Disney could lose the profitable franchise it acquired when it bought Fox.
Predator is only the latest franchise to go to court because of copyright laws’ termination rights. Friday the 13th screenwriter Victor Miller won a battle against producers back in 2018, a decision the movie’s producers are still trying to overturn. Miller’s victory led Clive Barker to fight for, and win, the rights of the Hellraiser franchise last year. The estate of the late Wes Craven also regained the rights for Nightmare on Elm Street in September 2020.
If the trend catches the attention of enough screenwriters and authors, the highly profitable reboot and remake industry might be in danger. At the same time, this is the perfect opportunity for authors to get involved once again with their beloved creations. We’ll wait for the next developments of this matter closely, as the result of this legal battle could help to change Hollywood in the next few years.