‘Predator’ writers sue Disney for franchise rights

‘Predator’ screenwriters Jim and John Thomas, who wrote Arnold Schwarzenegger’s original 1987 sci-fi classic, have filed a lawsuit in California federal court against Disney seeking the rights to the movie. franchise.

The Thomas brothers are specifically trying to use copyright law’s termination provision, which allows authors to undo transfers after waiting a certain amount of time, and are asking a judge to “give authors the right inalienable to recover copyright in their creative work,” according to legal documents obtained by TheWrap. The original “Predator” spec, originally titled “Hunters,” was acquired in 1986 by Twentieth Century Fox (and now owned by Disney post-merger), and the Thomas brothers are asking for a termination date of April 17, which is this Saturday. . , according to the complaint.

In the original “Predator”, Schwarzenegger played the leader of an elite special forces team on a mission to rescue hostages from guerrilla territory in Central America – only to be hunted down by an advanced alien life form. The film spawned three sequels plus the spin-off franchise, “Alien vs. Predator.” Dan Trachtenberg is set to direct the fifth installment in the “Predator” franchise.

The Thomas brothers say that in 2016 they gave Disney notice of termination and heard no objections for four and a half years. It wasn’t until January 2021 that they said “defendants’ attorney unexpectedly contacted plaintiffs’ attorney, challenging the notice of termination as allegedly inappropriate, based on a theory that the grant of the 1986 script underlying their “Predator” films would have qualified for the special, deferred “window” of termination time in 17 USC § 203(a)(3), intended for grants of “book publishing”.

The Thomas brothers ask a judge to rule in their favor and end the copyright. They are also asking for court costs and attorney fees.

Disney could not be reached for comment.

The Hollywood Reporter reported the news for the first time.