Why was Paramount Pictures sued over 'Top Gun: Maverick'?
Top Gun: Maverick's phenomenally successful journey at the worldwide box office has hit a sudden speedbump. The Tom Cruise-starrer has found itself mired in a lawsuit over copyright infringement. Paramount Pictures is being sued by Shosh and Yuval Yonay, the widow and son of late Israeli author Ehud Yonay. Notably, the original blockbuster Top Gun (1986) derived its core story from Yonay's 1983 article.
Why does this story matter?
Yonay's article, published in May 1983 in California Magazine, chronicled the journey of aspiring pilots at the Navy Fighter Weapons School, known as TOPGUN. He also provided a sneak peek into the cockpit through several pictures which were subsequently recreated in the films. Yonay was given due credit in Top Gun. Top Gun: Maverick has minted over $300M dollars in the US so far.
'Paramount deliberately ignored that the copyright reverted to the family'
The author's heirs filed the complaint at a federal court in California on Monday, claiming unspecified monetary compensation. The complaint says that the producers don't hold rights to the original story anymore, and despite this, are raking in big bucks. They claimed that Paramount Pictures "deliberately ignored" that the copyright was returned to them in 2020, while the film didn't release until May 2022.
The Yonays want a cut from film's profits
The family has alleged Paramount is "thumbing its nose" at federal copyright law. They are also seeking a part of the profits from Top Gun: Maverick. Moreover, the Yonays don't want Paramount to distribute Maverick or any future sequels. Reportedly, the mother and son duo had sent Paramount a cease-and-desist letter in May but the firm denied that the aforementioned article inspired the sequel.
Paramount Pictures has denied all charges
Paramount has denied the Yonays' claims and said the sequel was already "sufficiently completed" by January 24, 2020. This was the effective termination date, after which the copyright went back to the Israeli family. However, the family says the work only wrapped up in 2021. A spokesperson of the film distribution company said, "These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously."