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HomeCruise‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Copyright Suit: Paramount Loses Motion To Dismiss

‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Copyright Suit: Paramount Loses Motion To Dismiss

Paramount has come up short in its effort to ground a Top Gun: Maverick copyright lawsuit.
“Defendant’s primary argument in its Motion to Dismiss is that Plaintiffs have not sufficiently pled in their FAC that the Article and the Sequel are ‘substantially similar,’” said U.S. District Judge Percy Anderson in a court order released today. “The Court disagrees.”
“For all of the foregoing reasons, the Court denies the Motion to Dismiss,” the dense order added (read it here). “The Court concludes that the FAC contains sufficient well-pleaded facts to state viable claims for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and declaratory relief.”
Or, as Tom Cruise says in the high flying blockbuster: “Mach 10? Let’s give them Mach 10!”
“While the Court declined to dismiss the case at this very early stage in the proceedings, we will continue to vigorously defend this lawsuit and are confident that discovery will confirm that the claims have no merit,” a Paramount Pictures spokesperson told Deadline this afternoon.
First filed back in June, the complaint from the Israeli-based widow and son of the author of a 1983 article that inspired the original 1986 Top Gun flick claim the 2022 sequel falls afoul of termination rights – aka you shouldn’t have made this “derivative” movie without our say-so.
In California magazine’s May 1983 edition, Ehud Yonay penned “Top Guns,” about the pilots and program “located in a second-floor cubby of offices at the east end of Hangar One at Miramar.” The piece was optioned very quickly, made into the now classic Reagan Era pic and Yonay was in fact cited in the credits of the first Top Gun. Cut to over 35 years later and a long-desired sequel finally gets off the ground, but the Marc Toberoff- and Alex Kozinski-represented Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay assert the rights reverted to them in January 2020 under copyright statutes.
In communications with the Yonays before things went to court, Paramount weaved and claimed Maverick was already pretty much done before the January 24, 2020 termination date. The studio also insisted the movie fell under the “prior derivative works exception” in the statute.
Hitting the federal court docket just after the $1.5 billion box office scoring Maverick was released in late May, the suit seeks hefty but unspecified financial compensation. The Yonays also want an injunction to stop screenings and distribution of the film, which is window-dressing at this junction.
No surprise, Paramount wasn’t having any of that this summer as Maverick whipped up the box office stratosphere.
“When the Court reviews the article and Maverick, as opposed to Plaintiffs’ irrelevant and misleading purported comparison of the works, it is clear as a matter of law that Maverick does not borrow any of the article’s protected expression,” the studio declared in its motion to dismiss filing of August 26.
Unfortunately for Paramount, Judge Anderson did review the material, and pointed his pitot tube in the other direction.
All of which means Paramount now has until November 28 to formally respond to the initial complaint.
Happy Thanksgiving.

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