Well, this is a bit of a bizarre case that’s emerged from the bowels of Hollywood. However, before we get into the nitty-gritty details of this situation, let’s give some of the important background info. You may have heard of a little horror franchise called The Conjuring. This is a franchise that currently consists of two Conjuring films, two Annabelle film (including Annabelle: Creation, which is forthcoming), and The Nun, which is another upcoming spinoff.
Not only are (most) of these movies pretty solid thus far, but they have one aspect that every horror film hopes to be: based on a true story. That’s right. One of the things that makes these movies so darn scary is the fact that they’re purportedly based on a true story. More specifically, they’re based on the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren, two high profile paranormal investigators.
Now this is where the problem begins. Back in 1980, a man named Gerald Brittle wrote a book on the two called The Demonologist. According to Brittle (via Business Insider), the Warrens signed an agreement in 1978 stating that they are not allowed to “contract any work based on the same subject as Brittle’s book with anyone but him.” As is evidenced by the three movies so far, that didn’t happen.
Back in 1997, Warner Bros signed an agreement with the Warrens that allows them to make the movies based on their cases. Brittle states that this is an obvious violation of his contract with the Warrens, and in 2015, Brittle sent a cease and desist letter to the studio in advance of the release of the now-successful Conjuring 2 film. But nope, Warner Bros didn’t back down, and when told that Brittle had the exclusive rights to these case files, Warner Bros claimed that the films weren’t based on his book, but “historical facts.”
This is where things get interesting. According to the report from Business Insider, Brittle believes the Warrens have been hoaxing people their whole careers, and that ghosts, witches, and murderous dolls aren’t real. He and his legal team are hoping to exploit Warner with the angle that they can’t base the films on historical fact if there is nothing true about the Warrens’ case files, and sue the studio for a whopping $900 million, more than the grosses of all three existing films combined.
Brittle’s lawyer stated:
“To the extent the Defendants’ movies are not based on historical facts, they cannot claim they are protected by the fair use doctrine exemption to copyright.”
In theory then, the only way to prove that these are historical fact, would be prove that ghosts and witches exist, right?
While it seems like a promising angle, I’m not sure how much this would hold up in court. Whether or not ghosts are actually real may be debatable here, but whether or not Brittle likes it, there were “incidents,” real or not, that went down. These incidents are historical fact, even if the underpinnings behind them are debatable.
But that’s just my personal thought, and I’m by no means a lawyer.
I’ll be interested to see how this turns out. At this piont, the lawsuit has been filed, but Warner Bros has yet to receive it, so don’t expect these loose ends to be tied up any time soon.
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SOURCE: Business Insider