June 7 (UPI) — Hollywood studio Paramount is being sued by the family of a writer connected to the first “Top Gun” film in the 1980s, who argue that they hold a copyright and are owed money for the sequel that’s smashing box office records worldwide.
The lawsuit was brought by Shosh and Yuval Yonay, heirs to writer Ehud Yonay whose 1983 California magazine article “Top Guns” inspired the first film.
The suit says the Yonay family notified Paramount in 2018 that they would reacquire the copyright to the article and intellectual property that spawned “Top Gun” in 1986. The family argues that the studio did not finish production for “Top Gun: Maverick” until 2021, well after they reacquired the copyright.
The family is seeking a share of the profits for the new film, which has leveled box office records in the United States and around the world. The movie has so far earned almost $560 million in just over one week of release.
“The iconic 1986 Film all started with Paramount securing exclusive motion picture rights to Ehud Yonay’s copyrighted story immediately after its publication. In fact, the author’s story was duly credited on the derivative 1986 Film, which is widely known to have been based on the story,” the lawsuit says.
The complaint says the Yonays notified the federal copyright office of the reacquisition in January 2020.
“But Paramount deliberately ignored this, thumbing its nose at the statute,” it states. “This case arises out of Paramount’s conscious failure to re-acquire the requisite film and ancillary rights to the Yonay’s copyrighted Story prior to the completion and release of their derivative 2022 sequel.”
The studio has responded by saying the Yonays’ lawsuit has no legal foundation.
“These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” Paramount said in a statement to Variety.