Predator screenwriters Jim and John Thomas are suing Disney for the rights to the franchise, which started with the 1987 action-horror classic starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Carl Weathers.
The brothers argue that Disney’s rights to the franchise expires this week. As per The Hollywood Reporter, copyright law has a termination provision, which allows authors to cancel transfers after a period of time, generally 35 years. It's because of this that major studios stand to lose a number of franchise rights to works made in the Eighties.
Originally, the brothers stated that they served a termination notice in 2016 and heard no objection from Disney, which owns 20th Century Fox.
That changed, however, earlier this year. “In early January 2021, Defendants’ counsel unexpectedly contacted Plaintiffs’ counsel, contesting the Termination Notice as supposedly untimely, based on a theory that the 1986 Grant of the Screenplay underlying their Predator films allegedly qualified for the special, delayed termination time 'window' in 17 U.S.C. § 203(a)(3), intended for ‘book publication’ grants,” reads the complaint.
In response, the Thomas brothers say they served alternative notices of termination with later effective termination dates.
“On March 25, 2021, different counsel for Defendants served a second 'counter-notice' on Plaintiffs, repeating Defendants’ supposed objection regarding the Termination Notice, and adding an assortment of additional purported arguments regarding the Alternate Notices, in an effort to evade the Copyright Act’s authorial termination right,” continues the complaint.
Predator has been a major pop cultural franchise, with three sequels plus a spin-off movie series, Alien vs Predator. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney has looking to reboot the franchise overseen by 10 Cloverfield Lane director Dan Trachtenberg.