Judge bowls over ‘Rollerball’ campaign

Pogue's creative involvement too minimal to run in ads

A Los Angeles federal judge parked MGM’s attempts to link its “Rollerball” pic to U’s “The Fast and the Furious,” enjoining the Lion on Tuesday from referring in its ads to any creative involvement in both films by John Pogue.

U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz said U could suffer “irreparable injury” to its brand if MGM ads continued to run that say “Rollerball” is from the creators of “Furious.” “Rollerball” co-scripter Pogue was an executive producer and uncredited writer on “Furious,” but the judge found that Pogue’s creative involvement in the summer hot-rodding hit was too minimal to allow the advertising or any other references in its marketing to proceed.

The ad tagline also refers to “Die Hard,” whose director, John McTiernan, also helmed “Rollerball.” There was no conflict over that reference.

“We believe our ad was 100% accurate and appropriate,” said to an MGM official statement. “However, since the injunction only involves a couple of TV and radio spots that were scheduled to end on Friday anyway, we are not going to contest the court’s ruling and of course will abide by it.”

Lion exex said the references were contained in ads that constituted less than 10% of the campaign for its remake of the 1975 sci-fi action film. The remake, starring Chris Klein, LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, has had a bumpy production process: Its release date was kicked back from last summer as it was recut from an R rating to a PG-13.

Lion exex have blamed the dispute on U concerns over poor tracking for its “Big Fat Liar,” which opens the same day as “Rollerball” and shares some of the same audience, in this case pre- and early-teen males. U officials have rejected that claim, saying they were merely concerned about MGM claims that Pogue was a major creative contributor to their film. The U suit claimed false advertising and unfair competition.

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