The Conjuring franchise has been a runaway gold mine for Warner Bros., but they are about to feel the sting of success with a new lawsuit that may just flatline the beloved series of films.
According to a new report on Business Insider, the lawsuit is being brought on by book author Gerald Brittle. The lawsuit cites that back in 1978, Ed and Lorraine Warren signed a contract with Brittle that forbade them from using their own case files to make other forms of movies and entertainment, but more specifically, those that were used in his 1980 book about the Warrens’ case files titled The Demonologist.
Now that The Conjuring franchise has produced and released three movies in the Warrens’ case file saga (with two more on the way), it appears as though Gerald Brittle thinks that he has monetary rights to that content and should be compensated for his damages in a lawsuit that he has filed against Warner Bros.
— MoviePoster.com (@iloveposters) April 7, 2017
It also appears as though attorneys for Warner Bros. may have backed themselves in a corner with how they initially responded to he lawsuit, which was in poor taste to start with.
In the realm of fair use and the ability to make movies, books, and entertainment based off of real events that have happened historically, copyright and contract laws have a specific amount of gray area. In the case of The Conjuring film franchise, the movies have been marketed from the very beginning as based on the real life case files of the Warrens, leading viewers to believe that the content of the films were events that had actually happened.
As many people are aware, it is next to impossible to prove that the events of The Conjuring films ever took place. Although it may be easy to prove that the Warrens did indeed investigate cases of reported paranormal incidents and supernatural events, they simply did not walk away with enough empirical data that would prove beyond a reasonable doubt that demons, poltergeists, and possessed dolls were on the prowl in Rhode Island and other New England locations in 1970s. Most of their recordings and witness statements were complex and unreliable at best.
— The Conjuring (@TheConjuring) September 17, 2016
So when attorneys for Warner Bros. responded to the lawsuit over The Conjuring films, they may have made a fatal error that could cost them a sizeable amount of their earnings from the franchise.
That error by Warner Bros. was by saying that Brittle’s contract with the Warrens had no bearing over The Conjuring movies because those films were based on “historical facts,” rather than the content of Brittle’s book, The Demonologist.
That is what may have sealed the deal in the lawsuit against Warner Bros. over their Conjuring franchise. In order for that claim to hold up in front of a judge, Warner Bros. would essentially have to prove something that has been mostly unproven now for several centuries. They would have to prove that ghosts, demons, and witches are real and they have the powers that were featured on The Conjuring movies. That would also include the case of the Enfield poltergeist, which was featured in The Conjuring 2.
To further complicate the woes of Warner Bros. and The Conjuring franchise, the series of films have only actually grossed $886 million at the worldwide box office, which means that if the Brittle team were to win the full damages sought in the lawsuit, Warner Bros. would have to dig deeper into their own pockets to pay the bill.
As with most cases like this, where a major studio is on the hook for copyright and contractual breaches, Brittle and Warner Bros. will likely settle The Conjuring lawsuit out of court for an undisclosed amount of money. But on the other side of that lawsuit could be some bad news for fans of The Conjuring films, which may or may not effect the amount of films produced in the future about the Warren case files.
[Featured Image by Warner Bros.]