‘Predator’ Screenwriters Settle Copyright Dispute With Disney
The copyright lawsuit between the screenwriters of the 1987 movie Predator and Disney’s 20th Century Studios has come to an end. Brothers John and Jim Thomas and Disney have agreed to a confidential settlement in order to drop the lawsuit over rights to the script.
“All of the parties voluntarily dismissed their claims following an amicable resolution of the matters in dispute," said Marc Toberoff, who represents the brothers. However, the details of this deal remain under wraps.
The script for the Arnold Schwarzenegger-led Predator was written by the Thomas brothers all the way back in 1984 — two years later, they would sell the rights to 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios). In 1987, the film was released. Then, just last year, the brothers sued the studio, alleging it “wrongly denied their bid to terminate its rights to the script” (via The Hollywood Reporter).
According to the U.S. Copyright Act, authors can reclaim their ownership rights after a certain number of years — typically 35 years for newer works. However, if a script is “made for hire.” the studio is considered to be the legal author. Just hours after the brothers filed their lawsuit, Disney responded with one of their own, claiming that the “copyright termination notice sought to prematurely cut off its rights.” This was especially timely, considering 20th Century Studios is working on a reboot of the Predators franchise, supposedly called Skulls.
“This action is necessary because defendants are improperly attempting to prematurely terminate 20th Century’s rights to the Hunter screenplay, at the very time that 20th Century is investing substantial time, money, and effort in developing another installment in its successful Predator franchise,” reads the lawsuit.
Now that the parties have settled out of court, Disney can move forward with its prequel-slash-reboot — titled Skull — which is directed by Dan Trachtenberg.