Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Disney duking it out with Predator screenwriters in least thrilling Predator battle ever

“Objection!” “Overruled!”
“Objection!” “Overruled!”
Photo: Ethan Miller (Getty Images)

We’ve seen the Predators from Predator fight with all sorts of weapons over the years: The shoulder gun. The cool spear thing-y. The big-ass self-destruct bomb. (That one always seemed like kind of a cheat.) Now, though, the battle between hunter and hunted has evolved to its final form, the absolute apex of trial by combat: The legal system, and the brutal bloodbath of copyright law litigation

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Specifically, there’s a battle currently brewing between Disney, who ostensibly owns Predator—because Disney owns, like, everything, don’chaknow—and screenwriters Jim and John Thomas, who wrote the script that John McTiernan directed the 1987 sci-fi action flick from. This all gets a little “Do you really feel like looking up the details of copyright statutes late on a Thursday night” (kind of?) but the basic gist of the court case is that the Thomas brothers are claiming their right—codified in section 203 of the Copyright Act—to terminate Disney’s hold on their screenplay after 35 years. (And while Predator came out in 1987, the first draft of Hunter, the brothers’ original script, turns 35 this week.) There’s a lot of complicated issues at play here with timing, and the logistics of when you have to file notices of different parts of the termination request. But the basic gist is this: Jim and John Thomas say they get the rights to the big gnarly crab man back, and Disney—never a company willing to walk away from a copyright battle, this being the folks who once waged a long battle against the family of the guy who wrote Bambi—is saying “Hell no.”

And so, to court, they’ll go. As Deadline notes, this is actually something of a grudge match for the two attorneys representing the sides, who previously fought an extremely protracted battle over the rights to Superman between the families of the character’s creators and Warner Bros. (Goliath won that one, which, ain’t that always the way.)