Top Gun 2 lawsuit has suddenly halted the film’s box-office success celebrations. Hollywood fans eagerly awaited the second coming of Tom Cruise as Pete’ Maverick’ Mitchell after 3 and half decades in Top Gun: Maverick. It soared past the first film’s success, making more than 545 million USD within the first 10 days of opening. However, the party was short-lived.
While it was having a blast at the box office, a huge intellectual property lawsuit came to try and derail the franchise’s revival. The family of the Israeli writer Ehud Yonay, who inspired the original Top Gun in 1986, sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement.
Top Gun 2 Lawsuit Explained
In order to understand the Top Gun 2 lawsuit, one has to check in with the history first. The original Top Gun was based on Ehud Yonay’s 1983 article ‘Top Guns’ in California Magazine. It caught the eye of directors Jerry Bruckheimer and Don Simpson, who credited the article as their inspiration for Top Gun. The author died in 2012.
The lawsuit filed by Yonay’s son Yuval and widow Shosh alleged that Paramount did not reacquire the rights to the article after receiving the copyright termination notice in 2018. They claimed that Paramount continued to profit from the film while no longer holding copyrights to the magazine article.
Section 203 of the US Copyright Act states that starting from 1977, authors or their inheritors can reclaim copyrights after 35 years of transferring them. Since Paramount acquired them for the original Top Gun in 1983, their rights to Yonay’s intellectual property ended in 2018. The family claimed they also sent a warning to the studio, which was ignored. They filed a notice in 2018 to reclaim the copyrights. It took effect in 2020 and reverted all rights.
The film studio denied that the Top Gun 2 lawsuit had any merit, saying that the sequel was completed before the rights reverted in 2020. Paramount also claimed Top Gun: Maverick was not based on Yonay’s article; hence copyright infringement laws did not apply to this instalment.
Yonay’s family demanded an unspecified amount of damages and a percentage of Top Gun: Maverick’s box-office collection from Paramount. The studio refused to give in and said that it would keep fighting. Experts believe that no matter how much the studio fights, it will eventually have to settle the case. Otherwise, it will be busy in this legal battle for years.
The Role of COVID
One major problem that makes the Top Gun 2 lawsuit stronger against the studio is the delay in the film’s release. The production was completed in 2019, and the film was set to launch in the same year. However, it got postponed till 2020 because there was some more work to be done on flight sequences. Then it got further delayed by 2 years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The case against Top Gun 2 contested that the work continued on the film till 2021, a whole year after copyrights were officially terminated. Moreover, the film production started in 2018, making Paramount’s case weaker because it could have responded to the notice.
Top Gun: Maverick went on to be a widely appreciated and one of the best movies of summer 2022.