Stan Lee, the creator of such iconic characters as Spider-Man, the Hulk and Thor, has a lot of name recognition. So when Stan Lee Media Inc. filed a lawsuit last August against the producers of the rebooted Conan The Barbarian, people took notice. There’s just one problem: Lee founded the company but no longer has any part in it.
SLMI acquired the Conan property rights back in 2000 but according to them, after going bankrupt the following year, an unauthorized agent transferred its ownership back to Conan Sales Co. stated the Hollywood Reporter.
In a more recent article, THR says soon after the bankruptcy, “Stan Lee resolved differences with Marvel, bringing over rights to characters including Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, X-Men, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four, Thor, and more.” That, in turn, left SLMI feeling desperate to get back on its feet.
The company hopes that having a court-recognized board of directors will help them in their case but “back then, a bankruptcy judge stopped transfer of SLMI assets, but allowed Conan Sales Co. to reclaim the character it once held per a ‘Settlement Approval Order.’ Now, in the current lawsuit, SLMI says the judge’s order should be declared void because 1,800 SLMI shareholders were not provided sufficient notice.” Conan Sales Co. then sold the rights to Paradox Entertainment who have been hard at work trying to make the character profitable again.
They also said, “the defendants believe that the lawsuit to reclaim Conan upon the film’s release was an ‘ambush’ that was ‘intended to, and did, embarrass’ defendants at a ‘very important time,'” meaning the release of Conan the Barbarian a few months ago. But last week, the defendants moved to dismiss the lawsuit partly because the complaint was served on an “untimely” basis. “The motion to dismiss says that SLMI had an opportunity to challenge the order during the bankruptcy process and failed to do so,” writes THR. “The defendants argue that the Bankruptcy Code doesn’t require notices to shareholders, and that the bankruptcy judge had found a notice of a hearing to be sufficient.”
Conan grossed only about $50 million worldwide but “a good deal of ancillary revenue and future derivative works could be at stake, and of course, SLMI probably hopes to demonstrate it has regained its feet in the midst of legal battles over other characters,” says THR.
Now where’s the lawsuit to tell SLMI to stop using Stan Lee’s name?
(via The Hollywood Reporter)
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