EXCLUSIVE: Looks like Conan The Barbarian finally has one less foe to face. Two years and two months after the litigious Stan Lee Media sued Conan rights owners Paradox Entertainment for the rights back to the character, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals today pretty much slew their case. And by the way, just so everyone is clear, Stan Lee has nothing to do with the company that bears his name and hasn’t for well over a decade. Having said that, after hearing arguments on October 9, Judges Kim McLane Wardlaw, Richard Tallman and Harry Pregerson all quickly and strongly agreed (read it here) with District Court Judge Stephen Wilson’s February 2012 dismissal of SLMI’s suit against Paradox, its CEO Fredrik Malmberg, Lee’s longtime now-deceased lawyer, Arthur Leiberman’s estate and others. “The ruling confirms what we have said all along: This was a meritless and frivolous lawsuit to cash in on others’ hard work. I’m glad that two courts agree,” Malmberg told me today. Long story short, there is now no legal sword at all hanging over Universal Pictures reboot The Legend Of Conan, with a script by Andrea Berloff and the return of Arnold Schwarzenegger to the role he first played way back in 1982. This effort by SLMI all started when the company used the 2011 release of a Lionsgate distributed Conan The Barbarian reboot in 3D, starring then-unknown Jason Momoa, to try to get the courts to agree that they’d been fast-talked by lawyers into handing over the rights to the character during their 2002 bankruptcy. It was kind of a double fail. The movie flopped and SLMI’s theory didn’t find much agreement with the courts. Today’s memorandum from the 9th Circuit on SLMI’s latest appeal now leaves only the Supreme Court for the company to go to pursue this further. With SLMI’s various legal losses, including one earlier this year to Disney that saw a multibillion-dollar superhero copyright suit by SLMI tossed out by a federal judge, I doubt very much the SCOTUS is going to want to take up any legal arms in this case at all.
Deadline's Dominic Patten - tip him here.