Court Fight Over Cult Horror Film Sequel


     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Renaissance Pictures claims in Federal Court that a Connecticut company is trying to develop an unauthorized fourth installment of Sam Raimi’s cult horror flick, “Evil Dead.”
     Renaissance Pictures sued Award Pictures for trademark violations, false advertising, unfair competition, false designation of origin and injury to business reputation.
     It claims that by trading on the “Evil Dead” name, Award Pictures, of New Milford, Conn., is violating a copyright the original producers have held for decades.
     Writer-director Sam Raimi, producer Robert Tapert and actor Bruce Campbell formed Renaissance in 1979, and produced three “Evil Dead” movies: “The Evil Dead” and “Evil Dead II: Dead By Dawn” in the 1980s, and “Army of Darkness: Evil Dead III” in 1993.
     Renaissance announced in 2011 that it would be remake the original “Evil Dead,” for release in 2013. Raimi will co-write and produce it, according to the complaint.
     Award Pictures also announced an upcoming series of “Evil Dead” movies, the complaint states, though Renaissance still has copyright on the first picture, its sequels and remakes, and registered the trademark in 2010.
     Award Pictures claimed a right to make a sequel, “Evil Dead 4: Consequences,” in early 2004, then went quiet after Renaissance informed it that it held copyright and trademark rights, according to the complaint.’
     “Following the exchange of letters, Renaissance did not hear from defendant again (until recently as alleged below), and to Renaissance’s knowledge, defendant did not release any motion picture or other entertainment under the ‘Evil Dead’ name or mark,” the complaint states. “However, it recently came to Renaissance’s attention that defendant has announced on its website at www.awardpictures.com its ‘upcoming series of Evil Dead motion pictures’ with ‘Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon’ as the first installment. Defendant claims on its website that the film ‘Evil Dead: Genesis of the Necronomicon’ is ‘in development.'”
     Award Pictures this year filed a notice of opposition with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, appealing Renaissance’s application to register the trademark, and claiming its intention to use the “Evil Dead” title for a series of films, according to the complaint.
     “Defendant is using Renaissance’s ‘Evil Dead’ mark in this manner for the improper purpose of summoning interest in its own business and films by falsely associating itself with Renaissance’s cult hits to induce investors,” the complaint states.
     Renaissance claims that misuse of the trademark “will inevitably confuse consumers and the motion picture industry into believing that Renaissance is associated with such motion pictures,” and creates “the erroneous impression that defendant’s films are a continuation of Renaissance’s pre-existing ‘Evil Dead’ trilogy.”
     Renaissance is represented by Michael Chiappetta with Fross Zelnick Lehrman & Zissu, of New York City, and Michael Roth with Caldwell Leslie & Proctor, of Los Angeles.
     It seeks damages, punitive damages, costs and an injunction.

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