×

Universal Calls MGM’s James Bond Lawsuit ‘Extraordinary and Needless’

Universal is again slamming MGM and James Bond producer Danjaq Prods.’s copyright infringement lawsuit over U’s “Section 6” project, calling the litigation “extraordinary and needless.”

With a court hearing looming on July 28 on their effort dismiss the MGM-Danjaq case, Universal and screenwriter Aaron Berg, the author of the “Section 6” script, challenge the claim that the mere acquisition and copying of the script as part of the development process constitutes infringement and a ripoff of the 007 franchise.

“Since the movie may never be made and, if it is, the screenplay will be very different from the existing one about which plaintiffs complain, there is no need to use a significant amount of judicial and legal resources at this point,” Universal said in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

MGM and Danjaq filed suit in April, claiming that the “Section 6” script, set around the formation of MI6 after World War I, nevertheless was a knockoff of the 007 franchise. They have contended that Universal “directly infringed” on their copyrights by reproducing Berg’s “Section 6” screenplay, distributing copies to entice talent to the project, and then authorizing a revised screenplay that also is infringing.

But in its latest brief, Universal argues that the copies that have been made as “de minimis,” or internal in nature, few in amount and “dwarfed by the cost to the public and the litigants of proceeding with the case.”

“If Universal ever decides to make the movie, and Plaintiffs claim that even the revised screenplay infringes, there would be something to argue about, and the case can then be filed,” Universal said. The studio said that it has assured MGM and Danjaq that the final project will not infringe on the Bond movies.

Universal also challenged the MGM-Danjaq argument that the revised screenplay constitutes infringement because it would be a “separate derivative work based on the Bond works.” No revised screenplay has been created, U contends, and even if it had been by now, it could still use non-infringing elements of Berg’s original works.

Berg, meanwhile, is arguing that the characters, plot, settings and other elements of his screenplay are not “substantially similar” to the modern world James Bond elements that would be protected by copyright. His lawyers argue that MGM and Danjaq have “cherry-picked from the entire James Bond oeuvre” in making their claim. The screenplays “few short phrases possibly evoking the Bond works” are non-infringing as they fall under fair use or the de minimus doctrine, his brief says.

“Using Plaintiffs’ egregiously incorrect approach, ‘Inglourious Basterds’ would infringe ‘The Dirty Dozen,’ ‘The Sopranos’ would infringe ‘The Godfather,’ and ‘Titanic’ would infringe ‘The Poseidon Adventure,'” his brief states.

MGM and Danjaq are represented by Robert Schwartz of O’Melveny & Myers and Marc Becker of Quinn Emanuel; Universal is represented by Bert Fields and Aaron Moss of Greenberg Glusker. Berg is represented by David Aronoff and Amber Henry of Lathrop & Gage.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Metro 2033

    Cult Sci-Fi Novel 'Metro 2033' to Be Adapted as Movie (EXCLUSIVE)

    Russia’s TNT-Premier Studios Company, TV-3 Channel and Central Partnership Film Company – all part of Gazprom Media – have come together to produce a movie based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s sci-fi novel “Metro 2033,” which has also been adapted as a video game. Filming is due to start next year. The Russian premiere of the movie [...]

  • Beforeigners

    'Beforeigners’' Anne Bjornstad on HBO's First Norwegian Original Series

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —  HBO Europe’s first Norwegian original series, which debuted Aug. 21 exclusively across HBO’s territories, has garnered rave reviews in the Norwegian press. It is also a perfect fit for HBO’s brand and goal to create bold, smart and author-driven shows. Produced by Endemol Shine’s Norwegian prodco Rubicon TV, “Beforeigners” is helmed by [...]

  • Refugees from the besieged Muslim enclave

    Sarajevo’s True Stories Market: Documenting the Atrocities of War

    Reconciliation and dealing with the tragedies of the Yugoslav Wars has been a major focus of the Sarajevo Film Festival and its CineLink Industry Days event in recent years. The True Stories Market, launched in 2016, aims to connect filmmakers with organizations that are researching and documenting the Yugoslav Wars that spanned 1991 to 2001 [...]

  • Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’

    Ena Sendijarevic’s ‘Take Me Somewhere Nice’ Wins Top Prize in Sarajevo

    “Take Me Somewhere Nice,” Bosnian director Ena Sendijarević’s coming-of-age story about a teen raised in the Netherlands who returns to Bosnia to visit her ailing father, won the top prize at the Sarajevo Film Festival Thursday night, earning the Amsterdam-based helmer the coveted Heart of Sarajevo Award. The jury heralded the “beautifully photographed, acted, scripted [...]

  • Khadar Ahmed - BUFO - photo

    Bufo Sets Key Cast for Co-Production ‘The Gravedigger' (EXCLUSIVE)

    HAUGESUND, Norway  —   Actor Omar Abdi, who starred in the Ahmed-scripted short “Citizens,” and actress Yasmin Warsame, who made her name as a Canadian model, will topline romantic-tragedy “The Gravedigger,” the latest big screen project from Bufo, the Helsinki-based outfit behind Berlinale winner “The Other Side of Hope.” The film follows a Djibouti gravedigger [...]

  • Jacobs Ladder Movie 2019

    Film Review: 'Jacob's Ladder'

    It’s understandable that someone would want to remake “Jacob’s Ladder,” Adrian Lyne’s 1990 head-trip thriller about a Vietnam veteran haunted by fragmentary nightmare visions. I was far from alone in finding the original to be an overwrought but rather thin “psychological” horror film that was more punishing than pleasurable. And it wasn’t exactly a hit, [...]

  • Fiddler A Miracle of Miracles

    Film Review: 'Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles'

    Still beloved and routinely revived 55 years after its Broadway debut — including a Yiddish-language version now playing in New York — “Fiddler on the Roof” is a popular phenomenon that shows no sign of subsiding. Max Lewkowicz’s “Fiddler: A Miracle of Miracles” provides an entertaining if hardly exhaustive overview of how the unlikely success [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content