Jun 6, 2022 - Economy & Business

"Top Gun: Maverick" lawsuit looks to stop distribution, block sequels

Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick."
Tom Cruise in "Top Gun: Maverick." Photo: Paramount Pictures

A new lawsuit claims that Paramount Pictures released "Top Gun: Maverick" without having the rights needed to do so.

Why it matters: "Top Gun: Maverick" is one of the biggest films of 2022. It's smashed multiple box office records, including the biggest opening in Memorial Day weekend history.

Details: The family of Ehud Yonay — whose 1983 article "Top Guns" inspired the original 1986 Tom Cruise film — claims in a new lawsuit that Paramount did not reacquire the rights to the article before the sequel was released.

  • The family said "Top Gun: Maverick" is derived from the original article, according to the lawsuit, a copy of which Axios obtained.
  • The lawsuit claims the Yonays recovered the rights in 2020 and that "Top Gun: Maverick" didn't finish production until May 8, 2021 — more than a year after the rights to the movie allegedly expired.

The big picture: The Yonay family is seeking unspecified damages, including profits from "Top Gun: Maverick," which has grossed $295 million at the domestic box office, per Variety.

  • The lawsuit seeks to block the distribution of "Top Gun: Maverick" and any other "derivative work" based on Yonay's story or the 1986 "Top Gun" film.

The other side: Paramount said the sequel was “sufficiently completed” before the rights expired, per The Hollywood Reporter.

  • "These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously," Paramount said in a statement, according to Reuters.
  • Paramount did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Context: The family is using a provision in copyright law that allows authors to gain back the rights to their works after waiting through a period of time — which is often 35 years, per THR.

  • Representatives of the Yonay family did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.
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