Sam Raimi Sues Over Rights to 'Evil Dead' Sequel
New dispute illustrates why directors and producers in Hollywood
should be careful about saying they'll NEVER do a sequel.
A fight has broken out over who has rights to do a new sequel of the horror classic, The Evil Dead.
Renaissance Pictures, formed in 1979 by producer/director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert, and actor/producer Bruce Campbell
for the purpose of making the first film, is suing Award Pictures,
which says it plans to make a fourth film in the series. This potential
coming film is allegedly interfering with Raimi's own plan to make his
own sequel for Sony Pictures and FilmDistrict.
But Award Pictures isn't laying down. The company is using Raimi's
own comment in a 2000 book that he would never do a sequel as proof that
the "Evil Dead" trademark was abandoned. The company now says it is the
primary trademark holder of the film title.
The lawsuit could be a warning to all those in Hollywood who attempt
to lower expectations among fans and the press for a sequel to a cult
The original Evil Dead was released in 1983 about a group of
five friends who travel to a cabin in the woods where they find an
ancient Sumerian text that summons evil spirits when spoken aloud.
Originally made for less than half a million dollars, it has grossed
more than $29 million and is often proclaimed as one of the best horror
movies of all time. Plus, it still plays in theaters. A showing is
scheduled this midnight at the Landmark Sunshine Theater in New York
A sequel was made in 1987, and was again a hit, and a third film was
made in 1993, and was a modest success with $11.5 million in revenue.
Renaissance says in its lawsuit that fans "have long been eager for
another installment," and finally, in 2011, Raimi announced he would be
co-writing and co-producing a remake of the original. Shortly before the
announcement, Renaissance went to the U.S. Trademark Office to register
After Renaissance did so, an objection was filed by Award Pictures, which says it has been preparing its own Evil Dead
film. The company says that Renaissance's hold on "Evil Dead" was
abandoned and thus, Award Pictures should be deemed as being a prior
In an effort to show abandonment, Award Pictures points to comments attributed to Raimi and Tapert in the 2000 book, The Evil Dead Companion: "Ha," said Rob and Sam. "We're never going to do a sequel."
"This statement is a public declaration by the defendant that the
defendant abandoned the alleged 'mark,' Evil Dead, decades ago," says
Award Pictures in papers to the USPTO's Trademark Trial and Appeal
Award Pictures goes on to say that even if Evil Dead was a valid mark
upon the release of the first film, the sequels can't be counted as
continued use because they were both "works for hire" and "single
works." Additionally, the company points to 20 other motion pictures
that have used "Evil Dead" within their title over the years, saying
that Renaissance has exhibited "uncontrolled, unregulated, and
undefended use of Evil Dead." Finally, Award says Renaissance's
purported trademark claims constitute a defrauding of others in the
Earlier this week, Renaissance struck back with a lawsuit against
Award Pictures, saying it indeed has used its mark, for example
licensing Evil Dead video games, dolls, clothing, memorabilia, comic
According to the lawsuit, "As a result of Renaissance's use of the
EVIL DEAD mark and the cult success of the films and related products,
the EVIL DEAD mark has acquired enormous value, has become famous among
the relevant consuming public and motion picture trade, and is
recognized as identifying and distinguishing Renaissance exclusively and
uniquely as the source of goods sold and services provided under the
EVIL DEAD mark."
Renaissance says Award Pictures' planned film entitled Evil Dead 4: Consequences,
is intended to cause confusion to consumers, and also says that the key
plot elements and character names "would inevitably infringe
Renaissance's copyright rights in The Evil Dead."
Alleging trademark infringement, false advertising, injury to
business reputation, Renaissance is asking for an injunction against
further infringement and further monetary damages.
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