Renaissance Pictures, created in 1979 by Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell in order to make the horror classic The Evil Dead, is suing Award Pictures over the Evil Dead trademark and rights to make the sequel. Award Pictures claim statements made in the 2000 book The Evil Dead Companion by Raimi and Tapert wherein they said “We’re never going to do a sequel,” are proof that The Evil Dead trademark was abandoned, leaving it up for grabs to anyone ready, willing, and able to carry on the franchise.
With all this in mind, Award Pictures had their sights set on making a fourth Evil Dead film titled Evil Dead 4: Consequences. Not so fast, says Raimi, who was already working on co-writing and co-producing an Evil Dead remake for Sony Pictures and FilmDistrict. Both Renaissance and Award Pictures are claiming they own the rights to the trademark, with Award’s film interfering with Raimi’s remake. Bring in the lawyers!
From The Hollywood Reporter:
Renaissance says in its lawsuit that fans “have long been eager for another installment,” and Raimi finally announced last year he would co-write and co-produce a remake of the original. Shortly before the announcement, Renaissance went to the U.S. Trademark Office to register the mark.
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 user.
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 entertainment industry.
Renaissance struck back this week with a lawsuit against Award Pictures, saying it indeed has used its mark, for example licensing Evil Dead video games, dolls, clothing, memorabilia, comic books, etc.
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 that the key plot elements and character names “would inevitably infringe Renaissance’s copyright rights in The Evil Dead.”
Alleging trademark infringement, false advertising and injury to business reputation, Renaissance is asking for an injunction against further infringement and further monetary damages.
So what does this mean for the fans? Whomever wins, we lose. A fourth installment in the Evil Dead franchise slapped together by an unheard of production house without the cooperation of anyone involved in the first three films would be atrocious. That being said, the forthcoming obvious cash grab of a remake not featuring Bruce Campbell, not directed by Sam Raimi, and co-written by the infamous Diablo Cody is going to be pure, undiluted crap on a stick. My suggestion? Pop in your copy of the superior original, bask in all its glory, and just forget anything that comes after Army Of Darkness.