Freelance journalist Dominic Patten is covering the case for Deadline.
Warner Bros Lawyers Dig In Garbage Over ‘Last Samurai’ Suit
Despite a federal judge’s ruling today removing Warner Bros and writer John Logan as defendants from The Last Samurailawsuit, plaintiffs attorney John Marder said he may not be finished with the studio yet. Representing screenwriters Aaron and Matthew Benay, Marder told Deadline he was “researching whether or not I will appeal.” As for Warner Bros, “We are gratified the District Court has completely vindicated us from this spurious claim.” But the judge also rejected efforts by Warner Bros’ outside counsel Daniel Petrocelli to secure compensation for the studio and Logan. “We are very pleased with the court’s ruling denying Warner Bros and John Logan’s request for terminating and monetary sanction,” Marder said. But Bedford Falls’ Ed Zwick, who directed The Last Samurai, and Marshall Herskowtiz still will have to defend themselves in court. READ MORE »
UPDATE: It’s like a scene from a John Grisham movie: $800-per-hour attorneys for O’Melveny & Myers in posh Century City law offices trash-picking for used soda cans, torn candy wrappers, and dirty paper napkins. But this is a real-life legal case about the 2003 movie The Last Samurai that’s heating up. A federal court judge will hear oral arguments in the case on Monday. The reason for the rubbish rooting is clear: according to Warner Bros’ filings, “as much as $100 million in potential liability” is at stake here about the film that reportedly made $700M from theatrical grosses and DVDs. The proceedings began in 2005 when brother screenwriters Aaron and Matthew Benay filed suit in federal court against the studio Warner Bros and the film’s director Ed Zwick, writer Marshall Herskovitz and John Logan, the Zwick-Herskovitz production company Bedford Falls for breach of implied contract. The Benays contend that their copyrighted script The Last Samurai became the film The Last Samurai with the same fictional character and premise, and, surprisingly, the same title. In 2010, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court ruled that the “similarities are substantial for purposes of an implied-in-fact contract under California law”. The case is set for trial on March 20th. Read More »