One of this summer's early losers at the box office was Seth MacFarlane's "hotly awaited until it was summarily panned" A Million Ways To Die In The West. While that film might find its own niche audience over time, MacFarlane would be wise to find himself an instant hit his next time up to the plate. As luck (and contractually obligated planning) would have it, his next theatrical effort is none other than the recently underway Ted 2. However, a new lawsuit might have an impact on that next film, and when I say "impact" I really mean "influence on some of the gags written into the next film."
The Hollywood Reporter digs into the story of Bengal Mangle Productions, an outfit that uploaded a series of five videos with a character known as Charlie The Abusive Teddy Bear. Charlie is a bear of simple pleasures, pleasures outlined in Bengal Mangle's lawsuit as follows:
"Charlie has a penchant for drinking, smoking, prostitutes, and is a generally vulgar yet humorous character."
The suit goes on to name various similarities between Charlie and Ted, most notably their similar personas, the fact that they interact with the human world, and their status as "washed up child stars/public personas." The evidence provided in Bengal Mangle's complaint, which can be read here, includes specifically time coded references and social media postings between Ted and Charlie The Abusive Teddy Bear. Undoubtedly there are similarities present, but since Yogi Bear, Paddington Bear, and Winnie The Pooh are obvious targets for bear humor, and the style of humor both Charlie and Ted exhibit isn't exactly new, it's kind of hard to cry plagiarism.
If Charlie The Abusive Bear was a more widely known property, I'd be more inclined to agree that Seth MacFarlane (a man who's been, on more than one occasion, accused of broadly plagiarizing the formula of The Simpsons) or his writers may have grabbed a couple gags here and there for Ted. But the truth is, while Acting School Academy boasts "at least 1.2 million views between July 2009 and June 2012," those are rookie numbers for any video that expects to become a viral phenomenon. Not to mention, the humor of Ted is more reference based with vulgarity and ribaldry mixed in. Charlie The Abusive Teddy Bear, on the other hand, engages in much darker behavior... like killing a hooker or abusing his scene partner.
Time and time again, we've seen opportunistic talents file flimsy lawsuits against properties like Ted, Gravity, and even Her because they feel that the work on the screen is similar to something they've put together themselves. While this is probably the best documented case out of the three, Bengal Mangle Productions seem to be grabbing for attention to boost their numbers and perhaps relaunch their long dormant content platform. If their future installments of Charlie The Abusive Teddy Bear are as dark and abrasive as their previous work with the character, then the differences between Charlie and the infinitely more lovable (and infinitely funnier) Ted will continue to grow accordingly.
Ted 2 is now in production, and is aiming for a June 26, 2015 release date. If you dare to endure Charlie The Abusive Teddy Bear, you can watch those videos here.