SUPERMAN Lawsuit: The Empire Strikes Back -


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SUPERMAN Lawsuit: The Empire Strikes Back


By Rob M. Worley     May 17, 2010
Source: Various

Comics2Film: SUPERMAN
© Mania

DC strikes back at 'Superman' lawsuit chief. Plus: Sargent polishing 'Spider-Man' again. 'Cowboys & Aliens' cast expands. Hamill officially directing 'Black Pearl' and more! Recovering from the Motor City Madness, it's your Comics2Film 10.5.17!





'Iron Man 2' locked on to the #1 spot at the box office, besting Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' and raking in another $53 million in ticket sales, according to the Mania box office report. The domestic receipts from the movie are now in excess of $212 million.

Meanwhile, 'The Losers' has plummeted from the top 10 in its fourth week of release. The DC Comics-based film dropped a whopping six spots to #16 this week. It lost out to three new opening films, but also lost ground to 'Oceans', 'The Last Song' and 'Kick-Ass'. The $475k collected this week brings its domestic tally to nearly $23 million.



Alvin Sargent Polishing SPIDER-MAN Script

When director Marc Webb begins his 'Spider-Man' reboot later this year, there will be at least one holdover from the previous franchise. Heat Vision reports that scribe Alvin Sargent is busy polishing Jamie Vanderbilt's script from the film.

Sargent has worked on all of the previous web-slinger movies and is credited with bringing emotional weight to each of the films.

Thanks to AntoBlueberry for the submission.



Hamill to direct BLACK PEARL

Variety confirms what we reported back in April: filmmaker Mark Hamill is set to direct a feature film version of his comic 'The Black Pearl'.

The movie will be a low budget affair, with the $7 million in funding coming from a newly created production and finance company Berkeley Square Films.

Hamill is writing the script along with Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson.

The movie centers on the media frenzy that erupts around a stalker who is mistakenly seen as a costumed hero after he inadvertently rescues the object of his obsession.


C2F Quick Hits

  • Neil Gaiman has apparently softened on the idea of a 'Sandman' adaptation, which he's railed against for years. He told MTV Splash Page, "I think there are lots of ways to do 'Sandman.' The most logical would be as an HBO-style series, and there are lots of directors who would like to do that, and there are lots of people who've suggested it."
  • reports that actor Paul Dano (last seen getting bludgeoned in a bowling alley in 'There Will be Blood') is the latest addition to the cast of 'Cowboys & Aliens'.  They also add Keith Carradine to the cast as the town sheriff, and confirm Clancy Brown is in the mix.

  • has another photo of actor Ryan Reynolds in the mocap suit on the set of 'Green Lantern'.

  • TheASC has an interview with Jon Favreau and cinematographer Matthew Libatique about bringing 'Iron Man 2' to life.

  • Actor Edward Norton seems open to returning to the role of Bruce Banner for 'The Avengers', but he told MTV Splash Page that for that to happen, fans have "got to email Marvel and say, 'This is what I want.'"

  • has posted the first stills of actor Jason Momoa in action as 'Conan'. The images were part of a display selling the film at the Cannes Film Festival and are quite a bit more impressive than the previous round of pics.

  • Thanks to AntoBlueberry for the submission.




4 New JONAH HEX Poster

Warner Bros. have rolled out four new posters promoting 'Jonah Hex' on (seriously, MySpace still exists?)

Click the thumbnails below for a lookee-loo:

Poster: Josh Brolin in JONAH HEX

Poster: Megan Fox in JONAH HEX

Poster: John Malkovich in JONAH HEX

Poster: Michael Fassebender in JONAH HEX

Thanks to AntoBlueberry for the submission.



DC Targets SUPERMAN Lawyer

The battle over the rights to 'Superman' took an interesting turn over the weekend.

Fans will recall that attorney Marc Toberoff has been spearheading an action against Warner Bros on behalf of the families of Shuster and Siegel, the creators of Superman. Last August, Toberoff scored a win against Warner Bros, with certain rights to specific stories and aspects of the character returning to the Schuster and Siegel heirs. The attorney has also vowed that full rights to Superman would be in the hands of the families by 2013.

Now, according to THR Esq, Warner Bros has mounted a counter offensive, targeting Toberoff himself. They've published the entire legal filing for anyone who cares to read it.

The Warner Bros complaint argues that Toberoff has a conflict of interest due to the fact that he not only stands to collect the typical contingency fees that a lawyer would be entitled to in the face of victory, but would also obtain a stake in the Man of Steel property himself. Warner contends that Toberoff's involvement is tantamount to a hostile takeover of the intellectual property, done under the guise of legal representation to the families. details a series of bitter battles between Toberoff and Warner Bros. that pre-dates the Superman action. They've also got a press release from the attorney's office responding to the WB complaint:

Having substantially lost the legal battle over the Superman copyrights, Warner Bros. and DC Comics ("Warner") fired their two law firms and hired Daniel Petrocelli. In a desperate effort to avoid the merits of this action, they now resort to a smear campaign, disguised as a lawsuit, against the Siegels' and Shuster Estate's long-time attorney, Marc Toberoff. Even before filing their new lawsuit, Warner Bros.' press machine embarked on a well-coordinated campaign to assassinate Mr. Toberoff's character.

The baseless lawsuit and press campaign are clearly vindictive, given that Mr. Toberoff has handled a string of successful rights claims against Warner, including securing a preliminary injunction barring Warner's infringing "The Dukes of Hazzard" movie in 2005.

Warner disingenuously claims that Mr. Toberoff has a "financial stake" in the Superman lawsuits, when they well know the only interest Mr. Toberoff has is a proper contingent legal fee for litigating the Siegels' (and by extension the Shuster Executor's) termination rights under 17 U.S.C. 304 (c) with respect to Superman and Superboy.

In recognition of the inferior bargaining position of authors who want their works published, Sections 304(c), 304(d) and 203(a) of the Copyright Act specifically provide authors and certain heirs the right to recover their copyrights by terminating prior contractual grants of copyrights. Ridiculously, Warner now uses the Siegels' and Shuster Estate's exercise of this important statutory right to terminate prior contracts as the basis for frivolously claiming tortious contractual interference.

The supposed contracts purportedly interfered with consist of: (1) a 1992 agreement with Joe Shuster's sister that is irrelevant to the statutory termination rights of the Shuster Executor and, in any event, could not serve to waive the Executor's inalienable termination rights under the Copyright Act; and (2) a proposed 2002 agreement between Warner and the Siegels that did not close and was expressly held by the Court in the Superman case to be unenforceable.

Warner and Mr. Petrocelli are aware that the frivolous allegations in their complaint do not add up and will never pass muster in the federal courts. However, that's not the point of their lawsuit. Warner and Petrocelli's objective is to "muddy the waters" by attacking Mr. Toberoff, potentially conflict him out of the case, and thereby strong-arm the Siegels and Shusters into selling at a cut-rate price the copyrights they have legitimately recaptured. Such unethical tactics are nothing short of deplorable.

Last but not least, Warner oddly attached to their complaint an anonymous, inadmissible letter spewing unsubstantiated and unattributed accusations against Mr. Toberoff, and pressed media contacts to publish the defamatory letter. The anonymous letter is a hyperbolic rant that never "connects the dots" in any legally cognizable fashion.

The anonymous letter was supposedly included with a large pile of privileged documents that were brazenly stolen from Mr. Toberoff's law offices and mysteriously arrived at Warner Bros.' doorstep in the midst of this billion-dollar litigation. Even though triplicates of this illegal package were allegedly delivered to top lever Warner executives, including President and COO Alan Horn and former General Counsel John Schulman, Warner claims to have no records whatsoever of such deliveries, nor of the packaging they arrived in. This hardly rings true for a studio that tracks every script or treatment through its doors. Time will tell what role Warner played with regard to the stolen documents and the anonymous letter.

Ironically, Petrocelli, who destroyed the valuable Winnie the Pooh case based on the plaintiff's use of documents stolen from a Disney dumpster, now purports to rely on privileged documents stolen from Mr. Toberoff's law offices under very suspicious circumstances.

The Siegels, Shusters and Mr. Toberoff will vigorously defend against Warner's gutter tactics and baseless accusations and will pursue all appropriate legal remedies against Warner and Mr. Petrocelli. The Siegels and the Shuster Estate remain undeterred in their effort to enforce their legitimate rights under the Copyright Act.

Thanks to AntoBlueberry and Calibur454 for the submission.


Showing items 1 - 10 of 35
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Matador 5/17/2010 8:47:57 AM

Can't get any worse than what Warner Bros. has done to the Superman franchise if they lose the rights that is. What can I say I love the chaos.

Flint521466 5/17/2010 10:26:25 AM

Thought we were going to get some Episode V: Empire Strikes Back scoop.  Being that it's the 30th anniversery of its release I thought we'd get info on some special screenings.  Wishful thinking.......

Wiseguy 5/17/2010 10:44:47 AM

I won't buy a Superman book that isn't part of DC continuity. So if these guys take over good for them but they won't have me as a customer


jfdavis 5/17/2010 10:58:54 AM

I don't see the point of a non-continuity Superman book. It's analogous to Bond and Never Say Never Again in many respects.  As far as the movies go, less of an issue but Nolan and co. connecting them all is way cool indeed.

jedibanner 5/17/2010 11:13:29 AM

Meh....Jonah Hex seems so much interesting it's unbelievable. And it has nothing to do with Megan Fox, I like her. But the character itself of Jonah Hex....come on, who likes this guy.

Whoever at DC authorized this lemon to be made should be fired....seriously...who cares about this character? WHO???? Anyone? (sound of crickets is loud and clear...)...


Chopsaki 5/17/2010 11:28:37 AM

I have to say the premise of Black Pearl actually sounds interesting in a twisted sort of way, though the movie will most likely be terrible.

decepticons2 5/17/2010 11:38:32 AM

Lets say the families get Superman back. I read a few DC comics. Would it really hurt so much to remove Superman out of the universe. I say write him out now, he just doesn't seemed to have aged as well as other comic book heroes. DC pays some good writers I am sure they could put someone else in the strog man roll.

As for the movies the last one was a flop and has there been any real success since the first two? I would also guess that DC probably owns in some way most of the rogue gallery. So that would greatly limit there movie choices.


ponyboy76 5/17/2010 11:43:27 AM

So, if the rights ended up with the families, could they just rent them to the highest bidder?  So Disney/Marvel could pay them for the rights to distribute Superman. How crazy would that be? Warner/DC would never allow it to happen, but it would be pretty wild. DC could always just kill him off again, if the lawsuit goes badly.

krathwardroid 5/17/2010 12:40:44 PM

Mark Hamill directing the screen adaptation of The Black Pearl. Could be cool.

Yawn on the whole Superman lawsuit.

lancedenier 5/17/2010 1:08:21 PM

Superman is and should remain DC property.  Siegel and Shuster were paid for their work, regardless of how meager it may have been at the time.  DC has made attempts at compensation when they didn't have to.  Superman by any other publisher would be a travesty.  What if Stan took all of "his" creations and left Marvel without "his" body of work?  George Lucas did it right: he kept the rights to his material and the fat bastard is rolling in dough.  Siegel &Shuster's heirs can roll in shit afaic...

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