While plans for at least two sequels to last year's horror hit "The Conjuring" were fast-tracked both before and after the film's financial success, studio Warner Bros. now faces an uphill battle in getting those movies made thanks to a legal battle over the rights to the film's protagonists.
The Hollywood Reporter writes that Evergreen Media Group, headed by Tony DeRosa-Grund, has filed a suit against Warner Bros. claiming that the studio has neglected to obtain the proper permissions to the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren. The Warrens are real-life paranormal investigators (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in "The Conjuring"), and the rights to their case files are owned by Evergreen, which licensed them to Warner Bros.
But, according to Evergreen's lawsuit, Warner Bros. only obtained rights to less than one percent of the Warrens' files, and needed to re-license new files from Evergreen for new theatrical releases, which Evergreen claims Warner Bros. has failed to do. Warner Bros. also reneged on a promise to credit DeRosa-Grund as a producer on the film, the complaint says.
"DeRosa-Grund is upset by an alleged refusal for payment and credit over these film projects and is demanding that a Texas judge intervene to establish that the studio has stolen the underlying properties and order an injunction against further exploitation," THR writes. "He also says he is due big money from last year's horror blockbuster, alleging that his producer agreement entitled him to 5 percent of gross profits."
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. and its imprint, New Line, told THR that they were fighting Evergreen's "spurious claims," and added that existing arbitration from Evergreen in Los Angeles -- the company had previously filed suit against Warner Bros. for making a deal for a "Conjuring" TV show -- made the new suit, filed in Texas, "procedurally and substantively improper."
"The Conjuring 2" is tentatively scheduled for release on October 23, 2015. We'll see if this lawsuit changes that plan.
Photo courtesy Warner Bros.