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David Cronenberg on Contracts and Film Financing

David Cronenberg’s new film A Dangerous Method opens tonight at the Toronto International Film Festival.  In a profile in the Hollywood Reporter, Steven Galloway traces Cronenberg’s career from l’enfant terrible of Canadian cinema to one of the country’s most acclaimed directors.  A Dangerous Method is a period drama that examines the private lives of Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud.  It stars Keira Knightley, Viggo Mortensen and Michael Fassbender.

The article offers a glimpse into the legal challenges involved in a major movie production.  ”It was quite devastating,” Cronenberg recalls. “Even when we started shooting, there were documents still to be signed. It’s like a Frankenstein quilt: 15 entities were involved, and they all had to sign at the same moment.”

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

Summit Entertainment Suing ‘’ Site Owner

Film studio Summit Entertainment has filed a complaint with multiple causes of action in the U.S. Federal Court against Tom Markson, owner of website ‘‘. As holder of the rights to the Twilight films, Summit alleges copyright and trademark infringement, and unfair competition.

Although Markson has retained the site since 1994, Summit alleges “after Twilight was released and well received by the public, Defendant changed his website to post links and other material relating to the Twilight Motion Pictures, including copyrighted material owned by Summit”, and developed his website so it seemed to be an official Summit site.

Summit is claiming for damages, gains and attorney fees, and requests the court force Markson to take down the site and provide an injunction against “engaging in further acts of false designation of origin, affiliation or endorsement”.

See the full text of the complaint here.

Does the U.S. Need a Film Commission?

With the rising significance of the global marketplace in the film industry, screenwriter Hoyt Hilsman believes the time has come for a national film commission in the United States.

In a post on the blog Cultural Weekly, Hilsman refers to Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board as crucial to the global presence of Canadian film:

These agencies of the Canadian government not only assist filmmakers in the production of their films, but also help global marketing, distribution and promotion of Canadian films in general.  The result has been a boon for Canadian filmmakers and an important source of revenue for Canada….Since national film commissions are pretty inexpensive to operate and can reap huge economic benefits for a country, virtually every developed nation, and many in the developing world, operate these commissions.  However, there is one nation – the only one in the Western world – that does not have a national film commission.  Guess who?  The United States.

Whereas the National Film Board is a federal agency and Telefilm Canada is a Crown Corporation, Hilsman proposes a U.S. film commission based on a public-private partnership model.

The full text of Hilsman’s article is available here.

Conan the Litigation: Lawsuit Alleges Unauthorized Use of the Barbarian

Who owns the rights to Conan the Barbarian? According to a complaint filed August 19 in U.S. District Court, it’s not those involved with the warrior’s 3-D return to the big screen. Stan Lee Media Inc. alleges its ownership interest in all things Conan was wrongfully transferred away in 2002. The complaint seeks restitution, damages and the imposition of a constructive trust to recapture earnings from the current rights-holders.

The complaint identifies the Conan intellectual property to include “all intellectual property involving the fictional character of Conan, including stories, plot lines, themes, characters and other intellectual property relating to Conan, the Age of Hyboria (a fictional era in which Conan lives), and all books, magazines, comics, movies, recordings, television and merchandise featuring or otherwise referring in any way to Conan.”

Source: Entertainment Law Digest