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Judge allows $900 million lawsuit to be summoned on WB's The Conjuring

Nobody likes to go to court, especially if you stand to lose a $900 million dollar lawsuit. It's being reported today that Warner Bros. has lost their bid to dismiss or force arbitration on a legal suit filed against them with regards to THE CONJURING franchise - a horror film series that follows the work of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren. So successful was the first installment of the series, that a direct sequel and several spinoffs have been summoned and brought to screen as per the source material.

Much of what you'll find below was learned from the source article via The Hollywood Reporter:

The lawsuit coming from Gerald Brittle, who published a novel about the Warrens and their supernatural findings in 1980 called The Demonologist, is looking to collect on Warner Bros. success. As per the details, Brittle is stating that he had an agreement with the Warrens that would prohibit them from engaging in a motion picture deal without his say-so. The author also claims that he holds the exclusive rights to use the case file materials related to the Warren's unique brand of work. Regardless of knowing this (allegedly), Warner Bros. and the New Line branch are said to have entered into deals with the Warrens beginning in the 1990s for a motion picture based on their unique experiences and The Demonologist book.

Some years later, select rights to Warren case files would be found in the hands of producer Tony DeRosa-Grund, and were then scooped up by the Warners in a bankruptcy proceeding. This lead to all manner of litigation.

After some time, Brittle traveled to the court himself to make the allegation that Lorraine Warren, in 2011, would again make a movie deal, and that the two Conjuring films and ANNABELLE are based upon the Warren case files as well as The Demonologist. As part of his official complaint, Brittle is claiming copyright infringement, trespass to chattels, conversion, conspiracy and more.

As a result, Warner Bros. cited DeRosa-Grund, claiming that no one can establish a monopoly and use it to tell stories about true-life figures or events. The studio had also raised other issues that included (but were not limited to) statute of limitations. Warner Bros. then followed their rebuttle by saying that if the judge could not find that Brittle had failed to state proper claims, the dispute should be filed for arbitration - if not thrown out entirely.

Fast-forward to today, and U.S. District Court judge John Gibney Jr. ain't hearin' none of that.

In Judge Gibney's official statement he wrote, "The Court declines the parties' invitation to wade into the truth or falsity of the Warrens' paranormal escapades or to parse the resulting similarities between the works at this stage of the case. This type of analysis, which bears on evidence presented and factual determinations, is better suited for summary judgment or trial."

Furthermore, Gibney is also allowing for now the non-copyright state-based claims to be let through with word that more factual development is a must. Gibney has also rejected a Lanham Act claim based on misrepresentations in the advertising of THE CONJURING, and has also dismissed Ratpac-Dune Entertainment and various individuals involved for lack of personal jurisdiction.

Man, it's tough to include all the particulars when citing legal mumbo jumbo. I thank Eriq Gardner of The Hollywood Reporter for laying it out so comprehensibly. In short, it doesn't look like Warner Bros. is going to be able to keep this case away from the public eye. After all, $900 million is an astonishingly large amount of dead presidents, and should the studio lose the case, it could spell uncertainty for THE CONJURING franchise going forward. In any case, I hope that whoever's in the right is awarded for their work, and that both parties find a way to divide any future earnings amicably.

The latest spinooff film of the series, ANNABELLE: CREATION is making lots of money in theaters right now.

Extra Tidbit: I hate to admit this, but I've never seen any film in the Conjuring franchise. Have you? Which one was your favorite? Let us know in the comments section below!

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