Want to know the best way to bust a ghost? Nope, not with proton packs or elaborate traps triggered by foot pedals. You smother them with lawsuits tied to profit sharing and copyright laws. Terrifying!
At least, that’s what THR says Evergreen Media Group is attempting to do to Warner Bros. over the announced sequel to The Conjuring. Directed by James Wan, the horror thriller told the story of paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga), who are summoned to assist a family that believes a spirit has possessed their hourse and children. The Warrens are actual people who investigated multiple paranormal cases, so the potential for a franchise was always in play. They’re most recognizable case was the basis for the Amityville Horror film, and it was believed that the sequel to The Conjuring might have wanted to explore that territory.
If it’s going to do that, it might have to overcome some legal obstacles first. Tony DeRosa-Grund and Evergreen Media Group filed a lawsuit to stop the progress on the sequel, saying that they hold the rights to the Warren’s case files, and are now claiming that Warner and New Line were only granted rights to a "very limited selection of the Case Files." Now, if they are going to explore more Warren cases, they are going to have to pay.
The suit claims that Warner "now seek to reap all of the profits from The Conjuring while denying their financial obligations" by "failing to pay for the underlying rights and stealing those rights to make additional films, both theatrical films covered by the agreements as well as direct-to-video films that are not covered by the agreements..."
In other words, "Pay us."
The Conjuring crushed at the box office, earning $318 million worldwide. New Line and Warner Bros. is pushing ahead with The Conjuring 2, as well as a spinoff property pertaining to the creepy Annabelle doll, which is unnerving.
A spokesperson for Warner, meanwhile, responded, "New Line has been and is vigorously defending itself against these spurious claims in a binding arbitration proceeding in Los Angeles, and therefore the [recent] filing is both procedurally and substantively improper."
What does it mean? There’s too much money sitting on the table from potential Conjuring and Warren stories for Warner to just walk away. Expect a settlement, quietly, out of court. And look for those sequels and spinoffs to hit theaters in time. Warner has to pay off its legal team, after all.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.