When PR is Not a Good Idea: LA Weekly Article Formed Basis of Lawsuit Against Stuart Wall and Smash Pictures

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from www.hollywoodreporter.com – The copyright owner of the mega-selling book, Fifty Shades of Grey, as well as Universal City Studios, which owns movie rights, aren’t happy with a porn film that’s titled Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation.

The original book was authored by E.L. James and published in 2011 and tells the steamy tale of a literature student who meets a young entrepreneur. The two characters can’t resist each other. Erotic passions ensue. There’s even some bondage.

A natural porn film?

Smash Pictures and James Lane (“Jim Powers”) evidently thought so. The makers of Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation are now being taken to court over an what the plaintiffs call a “willful attempt to capitalize on the reputation of the book.”

Last summer, L.A. Weekly reviewed the potential porn film of the book franchise, saying, “While parodies are the only way adult film studios can make any money these days, making a ‘Fifty Shades’ version is truly the only way to put the three erotic novels on film in their BDSM glory without MPAA censorship and film industry finger-wagging.”

Want to bet?

In that same article, Smash exec Stuart Wall [pictured] gave the publication a quote, saying, “Since they are going to make a mainstream [film] of the books, too, dabbling in the adult world we’re choosing to go with a XXX adaption which will stay very true to the book and its S&M-themed romance.”

In the new lawsuit, Fifty Shades Ltd. and Universal points to that quote as proof of the defendants’ intentions to usurp copyright and trademark and confuse source of origin.

“By lifting exact dialogue, characters, events, story, and style from the Fifty Shades trilogy, Smash Pictures ensured that the first XXX adaptation was, in fact, as close as possible to the original works,” says the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs appear to have screened the movie.

“Beginning with the first XXX Adaptation’s opening scene and continuing throughout the next 2½ hours of the film, Smash Pictures copies without reservation from the unique expressive elements of the Fifty Shades trilogy, progressing through the events of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and into the second book, ‘Fifty Shades Darker,’ ” the complaint continues.

“The first XXX adaptation is not a parody, and it does not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals. It is a rip-off, plain and simple.”

Also targeted in the lawsuit are the distributors including Luv Moves, which is alleged to have packaged the DVD with sex toys in a kit called “Fifty Shades of Pleasure: Play Kit & Movie.”

Porn films make lovable litigation. This hot lawsuit follows a cold one in September when Ben & Jerry’s sued the makers of a series of porn films including Hairy Garcia, Boston Cream Thigh and Peanut Butter D-Cups that allegedly infringe the trademarks on ice cream flavors.

Universal has moved after acquiring rights to the Fifty Shades of Grey movie. Along with Focus Features, $5 million was put up for the right to adapt the book trilogy after a heated bidding war. Last month, it was announced that writer of the authorized film version is Kelly Marcel, who somewhat coincidentally knows a thing or two about rights issues, having previously written Saving Mr. Banks, which detailed Walt Disney’s 20-year pursuit of the film rights to author P.L. Travers’ novel Mary Poppins.

In the new lawsuit, Universal and Fifty Shades Ltd., represented by Andrew Thomas at Jenner & Block, are asking an injunction and further monetary damages.

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