The internet is abuzz about the rumored casting of the lead for the upcoming ‘Predator’ film, code named ‘Skulls’, Disney is making.
But what most people aren’t discussing is the lawsuit Disney has against them and their counter suit over the copyright to the Predator franchise that they now want to milk.
What most sites are looking at with Disney and the new ‘Skulls’ film is the casting. It’s been “leaked” that they are wanting to cast Amber Midthunder as the lead in the new film.
Of course they do.
This is not unexpected as it’s on formula for Disney, to make sure the lead in a franchise like ‘Predator’ is now a woman, but not just any woman.
No, she’s a true warrior and “truth seer” and is going to break cultural norms to be the greatest warrior ever. So it’s a Comanche version of ‘Mulan’ with Predators.
Here’s the synopsis:
“The newest installment on Predator franchise will follow Kee (Midthunder), a Comanche woman who goes against gender norms and traditions to become a warrior. Many years ago – in a time before any Europeans had ever encroached on their lands – the Comanche people had a well defined society and gender norms.
Kee is very close to her younger brother, Taabe, who is being groomed as a leader. As capable as any young man in the tribe, Kee has always been a teacher and source of inspiration for Taabe. In the Comanche way – she is Patsi – the elder sister that has helped to shape him. Kee is a truth teller and has insight that others do not. A tomboy, she wants to prove herself in the masculine world of the Comanche. When danger threatens them all – Kee sets out to prove that she is as capable as any young warrior.“
All that aside there’s a fly in the ointment.
We’re hearing all about this sudden casting rumor just days ahead of a hearing date Disney has in their counter suit against the creators of ‘Predator.’
Currently Disney, as 20th Century Fox Films, is in a legal battle for the rights to make new Predator films. Of course Disney is trying to tie it up so they can start making films with the franchise while everyone waits for trial.
Here’s what’s going on.
Jim and John Thomas are the original creators of the “Predator” franchise, and they had a licensing deal that Disney had acquired with their purchase of 20th Century Fox.
In the case of the Predator copyright, the Thomas brothers are trying to take back their ownership which they can do under the United States Law. It will get them their United States copyrights back, but that doesn’t mean foreign ones would revert. Disney would still have those, but they would have to license it from the brothers for new films or projects.
This does not mean that all the previous films would be gone, it just means that they would have all the rights on the property moving forward (at least in the United States.)
When they sold the screenplay, it gave the studios 35 years to “own” it, but after that time it reverts back to the original creators, at least in this type of deal. The brothers have given Disney notice three times, starting back in 2016. The copyright reversion date was to be April 17, 2021.
But now Disney is fighting them, because of course they are, and trying to claim that they should be able to stall the reversion because the notices weren’t valid for various reasons. Complaints range from copyright numbers being listed wrong, to they weren’t given the proper 2 years notice, etc.
AVP Galaxy breaks it down pretty well.
“..But lawyers for 20th Century Studios argue that the notice they received had errors rendering it invalid, the main error being the notice referenced an incorrect copyright number.
Apparently the “Hunters” script was never registered at the U.S. Copyright office (which isn’t required by law) but the Predator rewrite script was indeed registered, which at that point was technically a work-for-hire. And that Predator rewrite copyright number was incorrectly referenced as the Hunters’ copyright number in the termination notice.”
They argue the second notice was also invalid, even though the copyright number issues was resolved, because:
“But lawyers for 20th Century Studios argue that the second notice was invalid too, mainly because its termination date of June 14, 2022 was under the two years required by law from the point of serving notice.
Their legal team also suggests that mentioning the revised Predator Screenplay copyright number and title Predator is an intentional and purposeful invocation of the “Predator” name, because in truth the Thomas Brothers can only be granted “Hunters”. So because of this, Disney’s legal team says this second notice of termination is invalid.”
The date was listed as termination on January 13, 2023. Disney isn’t disputing this one, because of course they aren’t. No. They are saying that this notice should be the accepted end date so they would get almost two years to use the IP.
Disney is trying to get the courts to declare the first two termination notices as invalid and rule to allow the date on the last one, January 2023, to be the new termination date.
I’m sure in those two years they would do what they usually do and lobby for law changes or look for loop holes to force the rights to stay with them. Maybe they’ll just go with their other maneuver, which is to drag it out in court until the person has nothing left and then they win.
In the costs of the lawyers alone, they could have just worked with the brothers and maybe reached a FAIR agreement. But no. Disney is instead countering and not by denying the validity of the copyright, because they would if they could, but by nitpicking the notices.
So what happens now?
There is a court date, that just happens to be within a week of the casting “leak” being released. The date is May 27, 2021 with Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler set to hear both sides.
Jim and John Thomas are trying to get a “preliminary injunction” to stop Disney from moving forward on their new “Skulls” project and not allowing them to move forward until the end of the trial.
This will be done in a webinar format and it says “Webinar Access: All counsel, members of the public, and media may access the webinar information at https://www.cand.uscourts.gov/lb”
Members of the public may watch, but you can NOT record or take screenshots.
“General Order 58. Persons granted access to court proceedings held by telephone or videoconference are reminded that photographing, recording, and rebroadcasting of court proceedings, including screenshots or other visual copying of a hearing, is absolutely prohibited”
The media is covering all the information on the alleged casting of a diverse woman in the lead of the new film, but they aren’t covering the legal battle that is currently going on where Disney is trying to stall out the revision on copyright to the rightful owners.
Disney should just do the right thing and make a fair deal with the Thomas brothers.
So much for the “Disney difference.”
What do you think? Comment and let us know!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.