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Jim & John Thomas vs. Disney: Examining the Battle for Predator

When the shocking news was reported a couple of days ago that the original creators Jim and John Thomas were suing Disney to reclaim the rights to Predator, it understandably drove much of the fan community into quite a state of turmoil.

Most of the distress was due to the uncertainty regarding what would happen to the current Disney era Predator projects in the works, most notably the Dan Trachtenberg directed “Skulls” film that is currently in pre-production in Alberta, Canada.

Well we have studied the official legal complaint courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter and hopefully we will try to clear up the most common questions Predator fans may be asking.

 Jim & John Thomas vs. Disney: Examining the Battle for Predator

What are the Thomas Brothers pursuing?

The Thomas Brothers are pursuing a recapturing of copyright ownership of Predator permitted by United States Law, which means this action (if successful) will solely apply to U.S. copyright of Predator, not foreign copyrights. (The foreign copyright of Predator would remain with Disney, but still require a license from the Thomas Brothers for new projects.)

Per their legal complaint:

The Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C. §203(a), provides authors with the inalienable right to recapture the copyright to their creative work, after a lengthy waiting period, by statutorily terminating without cause prior transfer(s) of copyright, provided advance notice of termination is given and accepted for recordation by the U.S. Copyright Office.

If the Thomas Brothers reclaim the copyright to Predator, will they gain control of the previous Predator films and works?

No. If the Thomas Brothers recapture the U.S. copyright, they will only have 100% rights of future Predator productions in the United States. All of the pre-existing Predator works, including the 1987 original classic film, will still belong to the current copyright holder (which is Disney).

Per the legal complaint:

Under the termination provisions, prior “derivative works” “can continue to be” distributed as before. 17 U.S.C. § 203(b)(1). Plaintiffs’ recovery of the U.S. copyright to their Screenplay therefore does not prevent Defendants or their licensees from continuing to exploit prior derivative works, including the original Predator film and TCFFC’s five sequel films.

It’s worthy to note that the legal council representing the Thomas Brothers include both Alien vs. Predator and Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem among the “five sequel films”.

According to the legal claim filed on behalf of the Thomas Brothers, when should the transfer of Predator copyright ownership from Disney to Jim & John Thomas take place?

On the 17th of April, 2021.

However, Disney appears to be challenging the validity of this date of April 17th that the Thomas Brothers are claiming to be valid. And it appears the Thomas Bros are even conceding their date may not hold up in court in their complaint, so they included alternative dates in their lawsuit of June 2022 or January 2023.

Per the legal complaint:

The Termination Notice is valid and effective under 17 U.S.C. § 203(a) and terminates on April 17, 2021, Plaintiffs’ 1986 Grant of their Screenplay to TCFFC and that, as of said date, Plaintiffs recovered the U.S.

In the unlikely event the Court finds the Termination Notice is invalid, Plaintiffs’ Second Termination Notice or Third Termination Notice is valid, with effective termination dates of June 14, 2022 or January 13, 2023, respectively.

So this whole ordeal may be pushed out to June 2022 or January 2023 and Disney will proceed as normal with their current projects until said time. This will be up to a court Judge.

Are the Thomas Brothers trying to stop the new Disney era Predator film “Skulls” from going into production?

Yes, it would seem so. The legal representation for the Thomas Brothers indicate they are entitled to have the court issue a “preliminary injunction” on new Predator works, which is a temporary court order that would prevent Disney from continuing new Predator works until the conclusion of a trial.

Per the legal complaint:

Plaintiffs are entitled to a preliminary injunction, during the pendency of this action, and thereafter to a permanent injunction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2202, enjoining Defendants, their officers, agents and employees, and all persons acting in concert with them, from exploiting after April 17, 2021 (the effective termination date), new derivative works based on the Screenplay and derivative Predator film franchise, without first obtaining at arms’ length a new copyright license from Plaintiffs.

If the Thomas Brothers successfully reclaim the Predator copyright, can they license Predator right back to Disney if they choose to, if both parties agree on the terms?

Yes, but they are not required to.

If the Thomas Brothers successfully obtain ownership of the Predator U.S. copyright, they can license Predator to Disney or any other studio of their choosing (and then strike a joint deal with Disney for foreign distribution, etc..)

Now the law did allow Disney the exclusive opportunity to negotiate a U.S. re-license of Predator with the Thomas Brothers between the moment the Brothers served notice and the termination date, but that day has passed according to the Thomas Brothers lawsuit.

Per the legal complaint:

Congress anticipated that an author’s exercise of his/her termination right would usually result in a new license by the author to the terminated grantee (such as TCFFC). To that end, Congress provided “the original grantee” with the exclusive opportunity to re-license an author’s recaptured copyright “after the notice or termination has been served,” but before “the effective date of the termination.” Id. § 203(b)(4). The termination provisions thus reflect a deliberate balance of competing interests.

So what will happen to new Predator projects like the feature film “Skulls” slated to begin filming this June, or the ongoing Predator Marvel Comic series set to launch this November?

It’s up to the courts to decide. But until they do, for now, it seems to be business as usual at Disney.

Be sure to keep your targets set on Alien vs. Predator Galaxy for all the latest Predator news! You can also follow us on FacebookTwitter, Instagram and YouTube to get the latest on your social media walls. Be sure to join in with fellow Alien and Predator fans on our forums as well!

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Comments: 287
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  1. Jacku
    I love Phalanx but that part feels a bit too convenient for my taste

    Coincidentally I just finished the book yesterday. I feel the leaves are the key in the book.

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  2. Voodoo Magic
    But to be fair we did already get to see the Phalanx go up against the Alien though.

    Yeah, true, but I've been dreaming of this long before Phalanx.  8)

    Also, I don’t really think that premise can work as an Alien film honestly. Novel, comic, anime even? Sure. But the whole medieval planet devised to make the Alien timeline work would just make eyes roll I think as a feature film, as well as turn off its core audience. But would a Predator hunting in 480 BC Greece in a live action feature film work to me? Definitely!
  3. SuperiorIronman
    I absolutely love the idea of a Predator on a battlefield. Just weaving through gunfire, doing parkour over and around tanks, in and out of sight as he runs off with kills. Though I think we are a bit overdo on a film set in the past like the current production, I'd love to see a war time Predator film.

    Personally speaking I'd be all in for something kind of like the opening to Onimusha:Warlords where we see a massive clash with a Predator just in the middle taking on everyone. I think they even made something like 2 or 3 samurai Predators anyways so it wouldn't be unwarranted.
  4. Yautja888
    Thomas brothers WW2 battle of the Bulge pitch

    What is it and why I've never heard about it before ? I'd love Predator movie set in WWI/II

    They mentioned it in 2011 If I remember correctly.
    They didn't tell much about it, just Americans and Germans soldiers having an uneasy
    alliance against a predator in order to survive during the Battle of the Bulge, a german
    counteroffensive in 44.
  5. SM
    I really hope Dan Trachtenberg's movie gets canned. It looks like it has the works of work propaganda already. Can we please just have a normal movie that isn't about gender norms and all that bullshit. I want a return to the likes of the original movie or at least predator 2. Please, no SJW crap.
    Please put an injunction on it. I can already tell Disney is about to make a woke ass predator. Give it back to the original owners and let them revive it.

    Name checks out



     :laugh:
    Give them points for putting their dipshitted bigotry right on front street.
  6. Nightmare Asylum
    I guess you didn't learn anything from Terminator: Dark Turd.  Having a lead female in a movie is perfectly okay, look at the alien movies, but when you make it about gender norms and all that, it's a movie headed for the toilet. Watchmen series was woke as hell and was dogshit. Terminator: Dark Fate was woke as hell, it bombed. Just make a normal ass predator movie that's scary and not about gender norms. Just f**king fight the predator and shut the f**k up.

    Hahaha holy shit. :D
  7. SiL
    That's literally the point of the provision - to renegotiate the rights after the market value is proven.

    For a book, it can be a tool for a writer to get their work away from a publisher they don't like and go elsewhere. In the case of a movie though, the only rights it gives them is that of the script they wrote - nothing else.

    If they took the rights elsewhere, it would just be then taking their script to a new studio to get it adapted anew. If that studio wanted all the other parts, they'd still need to get them off Disney.
  8. Proteus
    Disney is about to go through some stuff that isn’t just with Predator.

    https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/industry-news/financial-reporting/article/86212-writers-orgs-form-disneymustpay-joint-task-force.html

    I think this is mostly just the writers having their right to be paid. And perhaps that’s all the Thomas Brothers are seeking in the end. “Look, you can keep the rights but it’s going to COST you.” And why not go that route? Would be easier than having to go around and negotiate the rights again somewhere else. That could take a few years.
  9. TC
    John August and Craig Mazin (two professional Hollywood screenwriters) have some commentary about the Predator case in their audio podcast:

    https://scriptnotes.libsyn.com/498-small-plates

    Skip ahead to 00:37:00

    or if you are at all interested in screenwriting, listen to the whole darn thing! In fact, subscribe! (This is the only podcast that I eagerly anticipate every week.)

    Or if you want all the gory legal details about the relevant US copyright law:

    https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/203

    TC
  10. Voodoo Magic
    Some people from Illfonic Forums are saying alot of dumb shit while sharing info on Reddit
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837008205174407218/unknown.png
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837009034435362876/unknown.png

    Yeah, a lot of that just comes from anger at the moment, I think. :/

    Some people from Illfonic Forums are saying alot of dumb shit while sharing info on Reddit
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837008205174407218/unknown.png
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837009034435362876/unknown.png

    I understand that fans are made because this just derailed everybody all at once but this is merely a matter of the Thomas brothers getting the franchise on or shortly after May 27th or something like 2023.They're getting the rights no matter what and no matter how Skulls will or would've turned out Fox should've lost the franchise long ago since if it's going to give far more a shit about Alien, it (Predator) should at the very least be in the hands of its creators than a company who considers it an afterthought. And frankly this should be a good thing since it will be in theory easier to get shit out since the Thomas brothers aren't likely to have the same mandates or be as incompetent as Fox.

    ^ This might be a bit harsh here imo. I think it's fair to say with the Netflix AvP Animated Show, The Predator and Skulls (apparently in development prior to the acquisition), at least in the last five to six years, Fox was not treating Predator as an afterthought. And hiring Dan Trachtenberg and Shane Black, these are not slouch directors at the time either. Fast-forward to Disney's acquisition, and their sister companies greenlit Skulls and the first Predator ongoing comic series in the history of the franchise.

    Regarding to the Thomas Brothers handling the franchise better, who knows. I've seen enough of Ridley's prequels, Lucas' prequels and Cameron’s return to Terminator to know there is no guarantee of a return to a high level of quality or competence.
  11. SuperiorIronman
    Some people from Illfonic Forums are saying alot of dumb shit while sharing info on Reddit
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837008205174407218/unknown.png
    https://media.discordapp.net/attachments/824292545164214375/837009034435362876/unknown.png

    I understand that fans are made because this just derailed everybody all at once but this is merely a matter of the Thomas brothers getting the franchise on or shortly after May 27th or something like 2023.They're getting the rights no matter what and no matter how Skulls will or would've turned out Fox should've lost the franchise long ago since if it's going to give far more a shit about Alien, it (Predator) should at the very least be in the hands of its creators than a company who considers it an afterthought. And frankly this should be a good thing since it will be in theory easier to get shit out since the Thomas brothers aren't likely to have the same mandates or be as incompetent as Fox.
  12. Voodoo Magic
    Do we know if/how this is affecting AVP media at the moment? Notably, that AVP anthology book with the Sigler story?

    I'd imagine that is getting indefinitely delayed just like everything else...

    Nothing is delayed until an injunction is passed. I have to assume that they’re assuming everything is still a go.

    I speak with no certainty but it's possible the Predator Hunting Grounds video game Anniversary update and DLC (Downloadable Content) has perhaps been delayed because of it. (We know it's delayed, with no reschedule, just no confirmation yet from the developer on why.)

    It may be a case of selling a chargeable DLC to fans starting this week, only for a judge to rule for a Preliminary Injunction on May 27th retroactively beginning April 17th, requiring the game developer to de-update the content on people's consoles and refund the buyers? Sounds like an impossible mess.

    The AvP Anthology might be in a similar situation? Full stop until further notice. I think I would order that if in charge. Why invest any more money if you're unsure at the moment you will be able to release & sell it.

    We really need to know how this copyright termination law applies to projects that have already started but not finished post a copyright termination date. That's the real question I think.

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    I would be interested in reading it, if it's ok with you of course.

    Seconded!  :)
  13. Anti-Woke
    I guess you didn't learn anything from Terminator: Dark Turd.  Having a lead female in a movie is perfectly okay, look at the alien movies, but when you make it about gender norms and all that, it's a movie headed for the toilet. Watchmen series was woke as hell and was dogshit. Terminator: Dark Fate was woke as hell, it bombed. Just make a normal ass predator movie that's scary and not about gender norms. Just f**king fight the predator and shut the f**k up.
  14. BigDaddyJohn
    🙏

    Well, that's not exactly what I have in mind for Predator sequel.


    https://media0.giphy.com/media/9SIXFu7bIUYHhFc19G/giphy.gif

     ;D


    I'd love true Predator 2 sequel, that continuities where P2 left. I'm not taking direct sequel, but thematically relevant
     continuation. I've said many times what I would want, but rather not to repeat myself I just sat my ass down and started writing my own script. The whole story is conceived and I'm currently 1/3 in act II with writing. I have to finish it and then translate it to English, cause I'm no native speaker, which is a bitch and some things might get lost in translation. I expect to finish it this year or maybe Q1-2 of the next. I'm hard working father of two so free time is hard to come by  :D

    P.S.
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    I would be interested in reading it, if it's ok with you of course.
  15. Stitch
    I really hope Dan Trachtenberg's movie gets canned. It looks like it has the works of work propaganda already. Can we please just have a normal movie that isn't about gender norms and all that bullshit. I want a return to the likes of the original movie or at least predator 2. Please, no SJW crap.
    Please put an injunction on it. I can already tell Disney is about to make a woke ass predator. Give it back to the original owners and let them revive it.

    Name checks out
  16. Master
    🙏

    Well, that's not exactly what I have in mind for Predator sequel.


    https://media0.giphy.com/media/9SIXFu7bIUYHhFc19G/giphy.gif

     ;D


    I'd love true Predator 2 sequel, that continuities where P2 left. I'm not taking direct sequel, but thematically relevant
     continuation. I've said many times what I would want, but rather not to repeat myself I just sat my ass down and started writing my own script. The whole story is conceived and I'm currently 1/3 in act II with writing. I have to finish it and then translate it to English, cause I'm no native speaker, which is a bitch and some things might get lost in translation. I expect to finish it this year or maybe Q1-2 of the next. I'm hard working father of two so free time is hard to come by  :D

    P.S.
    Spoiler (click to show/hide)
  17. Anti-Woke
    Please put an injunction on it. I can already tell Disney is about to make a woke ass predator. Give it back to the original owners and let them revive it.
  18. Anti-Woke
    I really hope Dan Trachtenberg's movie gets canned. It looks like it has the works of work propaganda already. Can we please just have a normal movie that isn't about gender norms and all that bullshit. I want a return to the likes of the original movie or at least predator 2. Please, no SJW crap.
  19. Proteus
    Do we know if/how this is affecting AVP media at the moment? Notably, that AVP anthology book with the Sigler story?

    I'd imagine that is getting indefinitely delayed just like everything else...

    Nothing is delayed until an injunction is passed. I have to assume that they’re assuming everything is still a go.

    Fingers crossed that we won’t have to worry until 2023. By then, I won’t care if it goes to the brothers, but right now we have a lot of content ready to come out.

    Thirty days and counting... 😩
  20. Immortan Jonesy
    Yeah that could be cool. If Skulls go the distance and is somewhat successful, it could open the door for other predator movies set in past eras.

    Yesssssssss!!!!!

    An anthology of Predator period piece films! Can you imagine it?

    https://media3.giphy.com/media/2sjwYkWtDdrOZxu9Mg/giphy.gif

    Wow, something like that would be a breathtakingly jewel.  :o



    I know! It sucks loving something that doesn’t even exist! Ugh! I’m going to be heartbroken if this is cancelled.

    I can finally empathize with religion.  :-X
  21. Master
    Yeah that could be cool. If Skulls go the distance and is somewhat successful, it could open the door for other predator movies set in past eras.

    Yesssssssss!!!!!

    An anthology of Predator period piece films! Can you imagine it?

    https://media3.giphy.com/media/2sjwYkWtDdrOZxu9Mg/giphy.gif

    Well, that's not exactly what I have in mind for Predator sequel.
  22. Boba
    It's too bad we can only attend the hearing virtually, with all the conventions cancelled I miss wearing my Predator cosplay. Maybe in 2023 for the trial!
  23. Proteus
    :o

    Don't worry, everything is gonna be okay...

    Spoiler (click to show/hide)

    https://s3.gifyu.com/images/tenor9d05bc005543cef8.gif

    I thought it was you who were supposed to have a degree in upsetology

    But you know I love Skulls  :'(

    https://s3.gifyu.com/images/5730r3c503aa1fd905be93.gif

    I know! It sucks loving something that doesn’t even exist! Ugh! I’m going to be heartbroken if this is cancelled.
  24. Yautja888
    Even if it's unlikely, wouldn't it be the coolest thing ever if the Thomas brothers WW2 battle of the Bulge pitch is used for a new Predator movie ?  It could happen.I want it to happen.
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