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There are plenty of Hollywood lawsuits that never actually make it to court, with judges throwing them out before they can get that far - but in this most recent instance, the folks at Warner Bros. aren't that lucky. A few months ago the studio was sued for a whopping $900 million due to their creation of the Conjuring franchise, and a recent decision has deemed the case worthy of going to trial.
Gerald Brittle is the author of a book about paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren called The Demonologists, and he is claiming that Warner Bros. did not have permission to make movies about them because he has held on to the rights since 1978. The studio attempted to get the case dismissed, however, U.S. District Judge John Gibney ruled that the lawsuit needs to go to trial in order for the truth to be properly sussed out.
It was back in late March that Gerald Brittle last filed a legal effort against the studio, continuing a claim that he holds exclusive rights to produce any works derivative of the lives of the Warrens. According to the original story, Lorraine Warren was in violation of their agreement when she allowed WB access to the case files for film adaptation.
Clearly this is bad news for Warner Bros. - and it comes at a really poor time given that the company has recently been celebrating the tremendous success of the Conjuring franchise. Earlier this month it was reported that the movies all together have now made more than a billion dollars at the global box office. The whole thing kicked off with James Wan's The Conjuring back in 2013, but that first blockbuster has since been followed by The Conjuring 2, Annabelle, and Annabelle: Creation (which is currently in theaters). There are also multiple upcoming projects in various stages of development, including The Nun (which is in post-production), and both The Crooked Man and The Conjuring 3 (which are in pre-production).
It's hard to say what would happen to these Conjuring-related projects if the studio were to lose the case, as they could either be totally stopped, or Gerald Brittle may instead make some kind of deal for the profits. We'll obviously know more when arguments are heard and a verdict is rendered.
Unfortunately, the courts don't move as fast as they do in the movies, so those immensely curious about how things will shake out here are going to have to learn some patience. According to Deadline, Judge Gibney has ruled that the case will be going to court and put before a jury on April 16, 2018 in Virginia. Eight months may seem like a long time from now, but the time will probably go by in a flash, and we'll be able to provide more updates about this story.