As DC Entertainment nears finalizing plans for Superman’s cinematic rebirth – Natalie Portman as Lois Lane? Really? – it’s looking like Warner Bros lawyers are taking the threat of losing the rights to the Man of Steel ever more seriously. The Hollywood Reporter’s THR Esq. blog is reporting that no less than five separate motions have just been filed by Warners attorney Dan Petrocelli and his team against Marc Toberoff, the lawyer representing the families of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
The motions are in response to Toberoff’s own multiple motions to dismiss Warners’ May lawsuit against him, which accuses the lawyer of manipulating the families out of deals with Warners and maneuvering them into a position where he himself stood to gain almost 50% of any revenue generated by the Superman property. These new motions – amongst other things – assert that “DC Comics maintained a healthy business relationship with the Shusters until 2001, when Toberoff induced them to sign contacts, which he now admits violated the Copyright Act” and that Toberoff himself had inquired about purchasing the Siegels’ Superman rights in November 2001 and February 2002, before signing to represent the family in September of that year.
A hearing has been set for October 18th, with depositions expected to start in November. As Warners begins to look more seriously at the value of the DC Entertainment properties, this case gains increased importance for the company. Expect things to get nasty as things go forward.
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