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$900 million lawsuit over The Conjuring Universe is underway

The Conjuring 2 Vera Farmiga James Wan

Warner Bros. subsidiary New Line Cinema has had some great success with what is starting to be called the "CONJURING universe". Director James Wan's THE CONJURING and THE CONJURING 2 were both box office successes, as was the spin-off film ANNABELLE (despite that one being poorly received). We have several more installments in this franchise ahead of us - THE CONJURING 3, the ANNABELLE prequel ANNABELLE: CREATION, and more spin-offs, THE NUN and THE CROOKED MAN.

But great success can often come with major complications, as we see now with the fact that a $900 lawsuit has been filed against Warner Bros. and New Line by author Gerald Brittle, who claims he had the exclusive rights to share the stories of Ed and Lorraine Warren, the real-life paranormal investigators at the center of the CONJURING Universe. Brittle says he has had these rights since 1980, when he published the book The Demonologist, about the Warrens.

Brittle had been pulled into an earlier CONJURING lawsuit, when Tony DeRosa-Grund claimed he had the rights to the Warrens' life story. However, at that time Brittle submitted a declaration saying that THE CONJURING and The Demonologist were not related. DeRosa-Grund's lawsuit eventually fell apart when Lorraine Warren said her signature had been forged on the agreements he had produced as evidence. New Line then made a deal directly with Warren, in which they were granted her life rights and the rights to 75 cases from the Warren files.

You would think that deal with Lorraine Warren would be the end of it, but Brittle feels differently. Even though the Perron Farmhouse case, the basis of THE CONJURING, isn't mentioned in The Demonologist, Brittle believes he had the rights to the story - and to the rest of the stories in the CONJURING Universe - because he had "exclusive rights to create derivative works based on the Warrens' cases."

There is the issue that historical fact isn't protected by copyright, so if THE CONJURING were based directly on the facts New Line was presented with, Brittle wouldn't have a say in the matter. The author's argument: the Warrens were lying about their experiences with the supernatural, so this is all fiction to begin with. Fiction he has copyright on, thanks to The Demonologist.

Warner Bros. / New Line feels so strongly that Brittle doesn't have a case, they have requested that the court simply dismiss the lawsuit. With $900 million at stake, it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Extra Tidbit: What do you think of this lawsuit?
Source: THR

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