The Ghost Rider will not be driving Marvel into a trial after all. “This letter is to notify you that the Plaintiffs and the Marvel Defendants (including Disney) have amicably agreed to resolve all claims between, among, and against all parties,” said plaintiff and former Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich’s lawyer in a letter late last week to NYC-based federal District Judge Katherine Forrest (read it here). While no details of the settlement were mention in Charles Krammer’ September 6 letter and no final paperwork has been filed yet, we’ll take that “amicably” at face value and assumed everyone got a piece of the fiery motorcycle-riding superhero. Created in the early 1970s partially by Friedrich, Ghost Rider has been made into two not unsuccessful pics starring Nicolas Cage in 2007 and 2011. Friedrich first filed against Marvel, Columbia TriStar, Relativity Media and others back in 2007, claiming that he owned the renewal term copyrights on the character and his origin story. The case was probably getting a little too hot for some’s comfort. In late June, Judge Forrest set the trial to start on November 4. The judge’s decision came just over two weeks after the Second Court of Appeals overturned a 2011 ruling of hers in Marvel’s favor. Now it is all legal smoke soon to disappear. Krammer and Joe Schneider of Riezman …
Eight jurors will decide this fall if Marvel actually owns the copyright to Ghost Rider or not. That was the order (read it here) issued today by a federal judge who set trial for November 4. The decision by District Judge Katherine Forrest in NYC comes just over two weeks after the Second Court of Appeals overturned a 2011 ruling of hers in Marvel’s favor in the legal battle with former freelancer Gary Friedrich over the fiery motorcycle-riding superhero. Marvel’s lawyers indicated today in a courtroom conference meeting on the case that while they will not challenge the Appeals Court decision, they would seek to have the case handled without a jury in a motion to be filed at a later date.
Friedrich first filed his suit against Marvel, Columbia TriStar, Relativity Media and others back in 2007, claiming that he owned the renewal term copyrights on the character and his origin story. The writer came up with the initial comic book idea for the Ghost Rider character 41 years ago, though Marvel claims it was part of a collaborative process. Friedrich filed his suit the very year the first Ghost Rider movie starring Nicolas Cage came out. In late 2011, just as the second Ghost Rider movie was about to be released, Judge Forrest ruled for Marvel and the other defendants.
They thought they’d won it but now Marvel will have to defend itself again over who owns Ghost Rider. A federal appeals court today overturned a 2011 ruling in Marvel’s favor which means former freelancer Gary Friedrich can take his copyright case to trial. “We conclude that the district court erred in granting summary judgment because the Agreement is ambiguous and there are genuine disputes of material fact regarding the parties’ intent to assign renewal rights in that Agreement, the timeliness of Friedrich’s ownership claim, and the authorship of the work,” wrote Judge Danny Chin in a ruling (read it here) from the Second Court of Appeals today. Friedrich, who came up with the original idea for the Ghost Rider character back in 1972, first filed his suit against Marvel, Columbia Tri-Star, Relativity Media and more back in 2007 claiming that he owned the renewal term copyrights on the character and his origin story. The initial suit was filed the same year the first Ghost Rider movie starring Nicolas Cage came out. Not that everything is clear in Friedrich’s favor from today’s ruling. “We agree with the district court that there are genuine disputes of material fact that preclude granting summary judgment on the issue of authorship,” said the ruling as it also rejected the plaintiff’s motion today.
A stuntman seriously injured while attempting to perform a stunt for the DVD release of the 2011 movie Ghost Rider 2 has filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Sony Pictures Entertainment and two other companies. The stuntman, Michael Gaboff, says in the suit filed Friday (read it here) that he was hired in April 2012 as an independent contractor to perform a stunt for the movie’s DVD release that the production teams knew or should have known involved serious risks and failed to take proper safety measures. Gaboff’s suit says he was to ride a motorcycle up a ramp after being set afire and leap across a lake and land in the water. The suit also alleges members of the production teams exhibited “conscious disregard” for Gaboff’s concerns about the risks. The stunt went wrong and Gaboff landed on hard ground, breaking numerous bones including his lower back and neck and suffering other injuries including second-degree burns. The suit says Gaboff was “rendered sick, sore, lame, disabled, and disordered, both internally and externally and suffered … numerous internal and external injuries, severe fright, shock, pain, discomfort and anxiety.”
EXCLUSIVE: Sony Pictures has made a preemptive 7-figure deal for Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance co-director Brian Taylor to write and direct a live action adaptation of the iconic video game Twisted Metal. Ghost Rider’s Avi and Ari Arad are producing the adaptation of the game, which has been published in various configurations by Sony Computer and is one of the biggest selling video games. The newest version of the game was just released today for PlayStation 3. Avi Arad, of course, has been a producer of Sony’s Spider-Man films since the beginning, including the upcoming 3D The Amazing Spider-Man. All this action occurs as Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens this weekend, with Nicolas Cage reprising the title role and Idris Elba also starring.
Like the game, the film will revolve around an underground event that pits a number of combatants in a fight to the death. They are outfitted in armored weaponized cars that are pimped out with heavy weaponry that includes missiles and machine guns. Some drop mines or launch electrical charges. The proprietor of the race is Calypso, a string-puller dedicating to examining the human condition, such as what makes a peaceful man violent, what terrifies a violent man and who will make a Faustian bargain in which they risk their lives. The sole survivor will get any wish granted.
I’m told that the film will include such …
Rights to the flaming-skull motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider belongs to Marvel Comics, a federal judge ruled. The vigilante played by Nicolas Cage in a 2007 movie and its upcoming sequel debuted in 1972 after Marvel freelancer Gary Friedrich first conceived him, the judge ruled. In his 2007 lawsuit, Friedrich claimed Marvel had infringed his rights to the character and its use in movies and merchandise. The judge said Friedrich relinquished his rights to Ghost Rider when he endorsed and cashed checks from Marvel. Those checks contained language relinquishing all rights. Friedrich’s lawyer said he would file an appeal. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance opens February 17.
Sony updated this one today on its website and we know how much you enjoy telling us what you think. Here’s Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider: Spirit Of Vengeance. Directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor, screenplay by Scott M. Gimple & Seth Hoffman and David S. Goyer. Opens February 17. Now have at it.
Actually, the full title is Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance:
Sony said today that it has slated Columbia Pictures’ Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance for wide release on Feb. 17, 2012. The 3D film, a sequel to the 2007 original, again stars Nicolas Cage, and is directed by Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor.
Deadline Comic-Con film correspondent Luke Y Thompson files:
If Comic-Cons can be said to have a theme, this year’s which began Wednesday is “free-for-all.” Usually, there is one property that is expected to dominate (IRON MAN and TRON LEGACY have been there, done that) and one that upsets (300, SIN CITY). This year, with AVENGERS unexpectedly not doing a presentation – though they have a giant set in the main hall with the logo for photo ops – it’s a wide-open field. TWILIGHT will of course be huge with a very particular segment of the audience, and Universal’s new SNOW WHITE may persuade those fans to stick around. REAL STEEL dominates the banners that hang from lamp-posts, and while that’s not doing a formal presentation either, Comic-Con attendees just might want to follow @realsteelmovie on Twitter. And maybe @RealHughJackman too.
GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE has the potential to be something truly nuts, but THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN is a question mark. With a high-quality trailer already leaked, some of the wind is out of its sails. The trailer looks fine, and surprisingly Fincher-esque coming from the director of (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. But it feels redundant: that same origin tale again, and so soon that there’s a disconnect – my eyes expect Emma Stone’s face to be Bryce Dallas Howard’s each time Gwen Stacy shows up.
Steven Spielberg is more of a draw than the movie he’s representing; ditto Patrick Stewart, but if we …