CATEGORIES Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy, Paramount, Warner Brothers, Celebrities and Controversy, 20th Century Fox, Harry Potter, Cinematical
It's official: Obnoxious producer Nicolas Chartier and his production company, Voltage Pictures, have gone ahead and filed their lawsuit against individual movie pirates who've downloaded -- and thereby contributed to the further illegal distribution -- of Best Picture-winner The Hurt Locker via BitTorrent. Our own Eric Snider had a little something to say on the suit and the plaintiff a couple weeks ago when the case was announced as a partnership between the producer and the U.S. Copyright Group, but if you want more details, including a link to the official complaint, head over to THR, Esq. for the legal mumbo jumbo.
Regardless of how you feel about this particular piracy case, you must agree that Chartier is doing a lot of damage to his personal image, particularly with his public displays of hotheadness. So much that all the money he gets from those 5,000 or so film thieves might not do him much good in the long run. Lawsuits just aren't worth the trouble when they're more likely to make you look like a fool. Just ask the no-name plaintiffs who've tried unsuccessfully to sue Natural Born Killers and Borat for claims of inspired violence and misleading participation contracts, respectively. In the end, they just came off as naive, attention-seeking idiots. Even worse is when the suing party is a celebrity, wannabe famous band or corporation that learns bad publicity isn't always good publicity. Here are five such self-damaging lawsuits that Chartier can now feel a kinship with:
Fox Sues Warner Bros. Over Watchmen
Remember when the Fox vs. Warner Bros. rights battle over Watchmen threatened to delay the adaptation? In hindsight the disappointing film doesn't appear to have been worth all the trouble. Especially from all those fanboys who hated Fox for the few months leading up to the settlement. Geeks all over the web pledged to boycott the studio's releases, even X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Avatar, if they didn't get their precious superhero movie as scheduled. In the end, perhaps some of the hatred led to the additional piracy of Wolverine, though ultimately Fox wasn't too badly hurt after suing the WB. They ended up with a share of the film's profits and few people really took the geeks seriously on their boycott threat anyway.
Wham-O sues Paramount over Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star's Slip 'N Slide gag
No company likes to have its products ripped off -- as Chock Full O' Nuts alleged they were in another ridiculous Watchmen lawsuit -- or depicted in a negative way. The latter was the issue in a 2003 case filed by toymaker Wham-O regarding the use of a Slip 'N Slide in the David Spade comedy Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star. Even if you haven't seen the movie (as I haven't), you may have seen the gag in the trailer: Spade's titular character jumps on to a dry slide and hurts his front side. After that, he apparently puts oil on the product and ends up hurting himself in another manner. Funny, I guess, but nobody would think to try the same stunt, right? That's what the judge who threw out the case must have agreed. Good thing, because I see in the trailer there's some bad, slapstick use of a bicycle, too. Just imagine if the maker of the hose used in Louis Lumiere's 1895 film The Waterer Watered had sued the early filmmaker and won, because the short depicted the prank-employed gardening tool in a bad light? Slapstick humor would have never been the same.
Lucasfilm sues Media Market Group over Star Ballz
After decades of Star Wars parodies, from Hardware Wars to Spaceballs to Mad and Cracked lampoons to countless YouTube creations, you'd think Lucasfilm would have gotten the idea that it's all in great fun and all in the favor of George Lucas' film properties. But apparently a decade ago they thought they could get some extra cash from producers of an animated pornographic film called Star Ballz, which didn't even solely take on the Star Wars franchise. Still, with an argument that also accused the parody of selling porn to kids (because all animation is for kids, right?), Lucasfilm continued to mar its reputation as a greedy company that only appreciates certain kinds of fandom and spoof. As usual in this sort of case, the parodists won on the idea that there is no possible way in hell the Star Wars property was harmed by this little, mostly unknown porno. Afterward, though, the makers of Star Ballz, Media Market Group, sued Lucasfilm for $140 million, claiming to have been slandered by the trial. They couldn't have just been happy with their initial win, as it gave them plenty of publicity?
Wyrd Sisters sue Warner Bros. over Harry Potter band name
Remember a few weeks ago a little band originally called Exit Through the Gift Shop gained free publicity and a Bansky original for agreeing to change their name when asked by the street artist/filmmaker? Years earlier, Warner Bros. tried a similarly nice gesture by offering $5,000 to a Canadian folk group called Wyrd Sisters. See, the studios' latest Harry Potter installment, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, featured a band called The Weird Sisters (depicted on screen by real rockers like Jarvis Cocker and Radiohead's Johnny Greenwood), and they didn't want there to be an issue with the coincidental similarity in name. But Wyrd Sisters must have thought they could get more money and more notice by suing Warner Bros., to the tune of $40 million. The group also tried to halt the release of the highly anticipated sequel (messing with Potter fans? that's dumber than messing with Watchmen geeks). The attempt backfired and the band ended up having to pay $140,000 to the studio for legal costs when the suit was dismissed. And yet Wyrd Sisters appealed that verdict. Finally, after five years, the studio and band recently reached an unknown settlement agreement. Apparently the name of the band in the movie was initially removed befor, so the only thing I can imagine is that Warner Bros. ultimately let the group off the hook regarding the legal fees. I'm sure Wyrd Sisters have suffered plenty, though, and should have just taken what was originally offered to them.
Lindsay Lohan sues E-Trade over "Milkaholic" ads
This one isn't exactly movie-related, at least not directly so. But considering it's just another thing hurting Lindsay Lohan's career as an actress, we're willing to accept it. Plus, it's just so much more ridiculous than any other lawsuit I've taken notice of in the last ten years. Lohan -- or should I just say Lindsay? -- apparently believes an E-Trade ad featuring a "milkaholic" baby is a personal jab at her, just because the baby in question has her name. And, well, because she's known for being an alcoholic mess. At least she's aware of her reputation? But we knew that already from prior self-parody. I guess it's okay for her to joke about her own reputation but it's not okay for a financial company to barely even seem to imply it's joking about her. Shouldn't she also -- or instead -- then be suing porn actress Lindsay Hohan or Hustler, for its Untrue Hollywood Stories: Lindsay Lohan? It gets even more silly when you hear the asking price in the suit: $100 million. The messy case is still pending, but I'm going to go out on a limb with this one and predict the judge will dismiss the suit on the widely accepted idea that Lohan defames herself more than anyone else could, and of course that the ad has no discernible connection specifically to the actress.