As ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ continues to shine at the box office this week, a lawsuit against Paramount Pictures made on Monday is putting the company in hot water.
Innocence or Ignorance?
The media corporation originally acquired the rights to Ehud Yonay’s 1983 piece “Top Guns”, which appeared in a 1983 issue of California magazine, before creating the first movie. Unfortunately, the Paramount Global unit was unable to reclaim the rights before releasing the “derivative” sequel. Thus, Yonay’s family filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Paramount Pictures over Tom Cruise’s latest blockbuster film on Monday.
In the eyes of Shosh and Yuval Yonay, Ehud’s widow and son from Israel, Paramount has purposefully ignored the federal copyright law.
According to a complaint filed in Los Angeles’s federal court, Shosh and Yuval claim they issued a notice to Paramount in 2018. They argued in the claim that the copyright would be reclaimed in January 2020. Meanwhile, ‘Maverick’ started shooting in 2018, and the Yonay family received nothing for four years.
They also argue that the ‘Top Gun’ remake did not finish production until May 2021, which was not before they transferred the copyright in 2019. ‘Maverick’ was supposed to come out in 2019, but it was pushed back to 2020 and continued to be delayed after that. Although it is unknown when Paramount officially completed the film, the timeline of events will undoubtedly be crucial as the case proceeds.
It’s Making Money
The lawsuit itself is asking for unspecified damages, which includes a portion of the proceeds from ‘Maverick’. It also wants to prohibit the company from distributing the film or any sequels. Copyright and entertainment legal expert March Toberoff is representing the Yonays; he has established a career assisting creatives and other artists in copyright claims with production corporations. Currently, he represents multiple comic book heirs that want to terminate Disney’s exclusive rights to Marvel characters. Another one of his clients is the original “Friday the 13th” scriptwriter, who is entangled in a judicial struggle as to who owns Jason Voorhees.
This might not be as big of a problem for Paramount Global, however, as the Joseph Kosinski-directed sequel is doing much better than expected. With only a 20% drop for overseas markets taking place this weekend, the sequel has grossed around $257M nationally and $548.6M globally as of Sunday. According to Deadline News, for a movie that opened to over $100M just last week, the speed at which it is making money might be a new record. Writer Nancy Tartaglione stated:
If a sequel to a 36-year-old movie doing these kinds of numbers doesn’t scream the big screen is back when a movie delivers, then I’ll eat my Ray-Bans.
People Love It
Along with its commercial success after just one week, the reviews regarding the movie itself have been surprisingly optimistic. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 97 percent positive rating, with an average score of 8.3 out of 10. Most of the good reviews are coming from average viewers as well; out of 25,000 viewers on the website, 99% of them gave positive reviews. Some professional commentators, like The Observer’s Mark Kermode, couldn’t help but gush at the movie online. Kermode wrote:
Personally, I found myself powerless to resist… and shamefully brought to tears by moments of hate-yourself-for-going-with-it manipulation.
Written by Ogechi Onyewuchi
Edited by Sheena Robertson
The Guardian: Studio behind Tom Cruise blockbuster Top Gun: Maverick sued over copyright; by The Guardian Staff
CNBC: Paramount sued over ‘Top Gun’ copyright as ‘Maverick’ soars at the box office; by Sarah Whitten
Deadline News: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Soars To $557M Global Through Sunday; ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ Grabs $56M In Early Bow & ‘Doctor Strange 2’ Crosses $900M WW – International Box Office Update; by Nancy Tartaglione
Popculture.com: ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Is Getting Extremely Good Reviews; by Michael Hein
Featured Image Courtesy of Gage Skidmore’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
First Inline Image Courtesy of Ken Walton’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Second Inline Image Courtesy of the NATO North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License