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The Battle for Predator: Examining Disney’s Complaint

When the news broke last week that original creators Jim and John Thomas were suing Disney to reclaim the U.S. copyright of Predator, we studied the official legal complaint of the Thomas Brothers and tried to clear up the most common questions Predator fans might be having regarding their lawsuit.

Well now, courtesy of Deadline, we have Disney’s counter complaint for declaratory relief in our possession and once again we’ll do our best to break it down and understand the studio’s side, and what precisely Disney/20th Century Studios is fighting.

 The Battle for Predator: Examining Disney's Complaint

When a creator of a spec film script (not a work for hire script) sells their screenplay to a film studio, U.S. copyright law’s termination provision allows those very same creators to reclaim ownership of those sold properties after 35 years. And to start that process, the original creator must serve the studio a “Notice of Termination” or simply “Termination Notice”. This notice gives the studio the required warning that the US copyright will be returning to its original owner.

The point of contention between The Thomas Brothers and Disney does not appear to be the reclaiming of copyright ownership itself, but actually the validity of two out of three Termination Notices that the Thomas Brothers sent to 20th Century Studios.

Yes, according to Disney’s 20th Century Studios complaint, the studio has received three Notices of Termination, but they argue the first two notices were invalid.

First Termination Notice Received:
According to Disney’s 20th Century Studios legal team, Jim & John Thomas first sent a Notice of Termination in June of 2016, informing the studio that the brothers were taking back the U.S. Copyright of Predator (Hunters) on the termination date of April 17th, 2021.

But lawyers for 20th Century Studios argue that the notice they received had errors rendering it invalid, the main error being the notice referenced an incorrect copyright number.

Apparently the “Hunters” script was never registered at the U.S. Copyright office (which isn’t required by law) but the Predator rewrite script was indeed registered, which at that point was technically a work-for-hire. And that Predator rewrite copyright number was incorrectly referenced as the Hunters’ copyright number in the termination notice. So because of this, and other errors, Disney’s legal team says this first notice of termination is invalid. (They did not advise the Thomas Brothers of the error(s) however until January of 2021.)

Second Termination Notice:
According to Disney’s 20th Century Studios legal team, they received a second notice from the Thomas Brothers in January of 2021. This second Notice of Termination addressed the copyright number error in the first, indicating the number represents a revised version of their work, not “Hunters” itself. The notice also indicated that they were taking back the U.S. Copyright of Predator (Hunters) on June 14, 2022.

But lawyers for 20th Century Studios argue that the second notice was invalid too, mainly because its termination date of June 14, 2022 was under the two years required by law from the point of serving notice.

Their legal team also suggests that mentioning the revised Predator Screenplay copyright number and title Predator is an intentional and purposeful invocation of the “Predator” name, because in truth the Thomas Brothers can only be granted “Hunters”. So because of this, Disney’s legal team says this second notice of termination is invalid.

Third Termination Notice Received:
In the Thomas Brothers legal complaint, they indicate a third Termination Notice was sent with the termination date of January 13, 2023.

Nothing in the Disney’s countersuit complaint is indicating that this third termination notice received is invalid. They just acknowledge receipt. So, it would at least appear that this third notice the Thomas Brothers served to reclaim the U.S. copyright of Predator (Hunters) is, for now, considered valid and subsequently will come to fruition.

So what is Disney now seeking? Disney is seeking a declaration from the courts that Termination Notice One and Two is invalid along with their respective termination dates. And a ruling in their favor, provided there is no preliminary injunction, should allow Disney to continue Predator films and licensed Predator projects freely at least until January 2023.

Be sure to keep your targets set on Alien vs. Predator Galaxy for all the latest Predator and Alien 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: 94
« Newer Comments 12 Older Comments »
  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!  :)
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. 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)
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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... 😩
  19. 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
  20. 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.
  21. 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!
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. Immortan Jonesy
    :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
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