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A Monster Lawsuit: Movies & Intellectual Property Rights.

A Godzilla Sized Lawsuit

Anne Hathaway is one of the most popular actresses in Hollywood today. She’s starred in a number of films including The Dark Knight Rises, The Princess Diaries, The Devil Wears Prada, and Les Miserables to name a few. Her latest project, Colossal, could actually bring a colossal amount of trouble, and it’s already the subject of a lawsuit.

What’s the Movie About?

The film is supposed to be a monster movie with an intellectual slant, and it was actually up for auction at Cannes. The story says that it combines elements of several movies including Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and Godzilla. It tells the story of a woman who is ordinary in most ways who goes through an extraordinary circumstance, which is basically the plot of nearly every film and book. Something confronts the hero and he or she goes through changes. However, there’s a twist to the indie film.

She’s in Tokyo when the city comes under attack from ”¦ Godzilla. She discovers that she’s the only person who can save the world by using the power of her mind. The synopsis doesn’t really go into how this will happen though. Now, if this was actually an authorized Godzilla film and they had permission to use the character, then there would not be a problem. That’s not what happened though.

What’s the Legal Problem?

Toho, the company that owns the copyright to Godzilla, is not pleased that they went ahead and used the character. Especially since they did not license its use first. They’ve filed a lawsuit against Voltage Pictures because they called the monster in the film Godzilla. There is not really any denying that they’ve called the monster the G-word. It’s mentioned in emails to investors and agents, and there’s even an interview where the director has said he would be making the cheapest Godzilla film ever. In fact, even the marketing material sent to investors was cheap – they misspelled the director’s name.

Given the fact that Toho owns the character, and there is an expected authorized sequel coming in 2018, it was only natural that they sued. It seems as though Voltage Pictures did nothing to hide their intent to make the Godzilla film, and it’s quite likely that Colossal will simply end up being a colossal waste of time for Hathaway and everyone else involved.

Ways The Could Have Avoided The Lawsuit

It’s a shame that they didn’t take a different approach and simply made up their own monster instead. However, given the fact that the film claims to be similar to Adaptation and Being John Malkovich, it is quite likely that the monster had to be Godzilla and that it was the iconic monster was central to the plot of the film. It might have made much better sense to approach Toho and do things the right way. After all, they had an Oscar winner attached to the film in Hathaway, so it might have been possible to get permission to use the character in an offbeat indie film. It certainly would have been better than to go through the pending lawsuit they are now facing.

The Settlement

This one will not see a courtroom. The parties settled. The contents of the settlement are confidential. In this regard, we will never know what it cost for NOT using Godzilla in a movie. That is right. The new movie will not use Godzilla or any lizard type monster.

Interesting that there are other Godzilla related lawsuits that have occurred. The most recent involved the movie company and three producers. Going further back, there were situations where Subway had to take a angry lizard type monster off an advertising campaign, the movie Pee Wee’s Big Adventure had a legal fight over a Godzilla chase seen in the 1985 movie and Honda settled a case in 1991 for using Godzilla in their Rose Parade.

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