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‘Mutant’ suits multiply

Tribune sues Marvel for $100 mil over sci-fi skein

NEW YORK — Tribune Entertainment has sued Marvel Enterprises for breach of contract over the sci-fi series “Mutant X.” Tribune is suing Marvel for $100 million in damages.

In the lawsuit, filed in New York County, Tribune claims that Marvel encouraged Tribune to connect “Mutant X,” its firstrun syndicated series, to 20th Century Fox’s hit theatrical movie “X-Men” in 2001. That’s when Tribune was developing the “Mutant X” series and clearing it on TV stations throughout the country for weekly scheduling that September.

But Marvel’s contract with 20th prevented such a tie-in of “X-Men” to “Mutant X” without 20th’s permission, Tribune says, alleging that Marvel lied about these contractual clauses.

Relying on language in its contract with Marvel, 20th sued both Marvel and Tribune on April 15, 2001, trying to stop the two companies from going ahead with production of “Mutant X” because of its alleged similarity to “X-Men.”

Marvel countersued, saying “Mutant X” was not at all similar, featuring different names, looks, personalities and backstories.

Twentieth’s suit against Tribune dragged on until the two parties finally agreed to a settlement earlier this month in which 20th agreed to dismiss all claims in exchange for undisclosed considerations.

But Tribune spent “millions of dollars” defending the lawsuit by 20th, losing further millions when it was forced to make “numerous changes in the content and storyline of ‘Mutant X’ in order to address Fox’s complaints” that it was a ripoff of the “X-Men” movie.

“Mutant X” has just begun its third season in syndication, where it’s a modest success, averaging a 2.2 rating season to date.

But the lawsuit says Tribune “has not realized any profit at all from the production and distribution of ‘Mutant X’ but has instead lost millions of dollars.”

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