Just days before the Supreme Court was set to take the matter into conference, Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have settled their long running legal dispute over the comic legend’s rights to the characters he created or co-created. Here’s their joint statement:
“Marvel and the family of Jack Kirby have amicably resolved their legal disputes, and are looking forward to advancing their shared goal of honoring Mr. Kirby’s significant role in Marvel’s history.”
Widely viewed as one of the Kings of Comics, Kirby created or co-created some of the biggest names on the page and now on the big screen in the superhero blockbusters that Hollywood has profited from in recent years. However, while his often partner Stan Lee was a Marvel employee, Kirby was a work for hire and had no rights to Captain America, The Fantastic Four, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, the original X-Men and the plethora of other characters he played a pivotal part in bringing to life. The settlement between Marvel/Disney is confidential, but you don’t have to be a Supreme Court Justice to know that if a deal was reached this late in the process, it must be a healthy one for the Kirby’s – who were holding a lot of the cards for once.
It was a long legal road for them and Marvel to get to today’s deal. After failing repeatedly in lower courts, Lisa Kirby, Neal Kirby, Susan Kirby and Barbara Kirby petitioned the High Court on March 21 for a hearing on the matter. In their petition, the heirs wanted SCOTUS to rule in favor of their assertion that they had the right in 2009 to issue termination notices on 262 works that the comic legend helped create between 1958 and 1963. Those 45 notices went out to Marvel/Disney, Fox, Universal and Paramount Pictures and others who have made films based on the artist’s characters under the provisions of the 1976 Copyright Act. Marvel sued in 2010, after failing to reach an agreement back then with the Kirby family to invalidate the termination notices. Jack Kirby himself passed away in 1994.
Despite initial indifference and then objections from Disney-owned Marvel, SCOTUS agreed to take the case into conference to consider if they would actually hear it. That conference, where the nine Justices would ostensibly be sitting around talking about comic as well as copyright, was scheduled for September 29. The Kirby family and their legal point had a lot of support and not just among the fanboys. SAG, the WGA and the DGA back in June submitted a brief to the High Court in favour of having the Kirbys’ petition granted.
All things considered, and with the billions that Marvel/Disney have made off the films filled with characters Kirby created, this 11th hour deal should come as no great surprise – except for how long it took them. The bottom line and PR risk that the media giant was taking if SCOTUS had agreed to move the family’s petition up to an actual hearing would have sent a shudder through the market and the town. As well, if there had been a hearing and if then the High Court had found for the Kirbys, the results would have thrown Marvel/Disney into turmoil as they would have to negotiate for millions and millions with the family on everything from The Avengers, this summer’s big hit Guardians Of The Galaxy, with the popular Groot character a Kirby creation, and the all the characters in the notices if they wanted to keep the franchises going at Disney and other studios. And there would have been royalties on the already made movies like the 2008 hit Iron Man and 2012’s The Avengers with its billion dollar plus box office, to name a few. As well a wide variety of copyrights across the industry, including those at Warner Bros and DC Comics, would suddenly be in play as the work of writers, composers and others designated under a freelancer or the work for hire status could suddenly gain a piece of what they created in what would now be seen as a much more traditional employee/employer arrangement.
Mane began his wrestling career in 1986 under the name Skywalker Nitron in his native Canada. In 1987, he wrestled in the United Kingdom, an in 1988, he toured New japan Pro Wrestling. Mane joined up with World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 1989 as simply “Nitron”, sometimes “Nitro”, the bodyguard for Woman. His tenure was very brief, as he left in early 1990.
Afterward, Mane returned to Canada in 1990, before embarking on a tour of Puerto Rico, before touring Japan again. In 1991, he embarked on a tour of Mexico for Consejo Mundial De Lucha Libre, where he remained for nearly two years.
In 1993, he returned to WCW, this time under the name Big Sky. In 1994, he joined Herb Abrams’ Universal Wrestling Federation and became the only UWF MGM Grand Champion, defeating Steve Ray to win the vacant title. After Abrams’ death and eventual dissolving of the UWF in 1996, Mane retired.
After retiring from wrestling, he appeared in numerous films, including X-Men as Sabretooth (his film debut), How to Make a Monster (as Hardcore), The Scorpion King, Troy (as Ajax), Hercules (as Antaeus), and The Devil’s Rejects (in the uncredited role of Rufus). The role of Sabretooth was initially intended for Mane’s former wrestling tag team parter, Kevin Nash, but was awarded to Mane due to Nash’s scheduling conflicts. Nash would, however, get a small role in a later Marvel Comics film, The Punisher.
In 2007, he filmed Rob Zombie’s remake of Halloween, in which he played the iconic starring role of Michael Myers. After winning the role, he noted that he consecutively watched seven of the eight Halloween films (excluding the third because Michael Myers does not appear) to better understand his character. At 6′ 9″, he is the tallest actor to portray the character. The film is a remake/reimagining of the 1978 classic horror film of the same name, the first in the rebooted Halloween film series and the ninth Halloween film in total. The film also stars Malcolm McDowell as Dr. Sam loomi, and Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie Strode; Daeg Faerch portrays a disturbed ten-year-old Michael Myers. Rob Zombie’s “reimagining” follows the premise of John Carpenter’s original, with Michael Myers stalking Laurie Strode and her friends on Halloween night. Zombie’s film goes deeper into the character’s psyche, trying to answer the question of what drove him to kill people, whereas in Carpenter’s original film Michael did not have an explicit reason for killing. Working from Carpenter’s advice to “make [the film] his own”, Zombie chose to develop the film as both a prequel and a remake, allowing for more original content than simply re-filming the same scenes.
Despite mostly negative reviews, the film, which cost $15 million to make, went on to gross $80 million worldwide, making it the highest grossing film in the Halloween franchise in unadjusted U.S. dollars. In 2009, he reprised the role again in Rob Zombie’s H2, becoming only the second actor to play Michael Myers more than once, and the only actor to play the role in two consecutive films.
Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that 10 films remain in the running in the Visual Effects category for the 84th Academy Awards®. The films are listed below in alphabetical order:
“Captain America: The First Avenger”
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
“Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol”
“Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides”
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
“The Tree of Life”
“X-Men: First Class”
All members of the Visual Effects Branch will be invited to view 10-minute excerpts from each of the 10 shortlisted films on Thursday, January 19. Following the screenings, the members will vote to nominate five films for final Oscar consideration.
The 84th Academy Awards nominations will be announced live on Tuesday, January 24, at 5:30 a.m. PT in the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theater.
If Doug Trumbull for Tree of Life and the guys from Rise of the Planet of the Apes aren’t on the shortlist, the Academy are as dumb and insular as ever…
Under the Dome, the Showtime/Dreamworks adaptation of the Stephen King novel has a screenwriter, Brian K. Vaughan. Vaughan is famous in the comic world for his excellent graphic novels, ‘Y: The Last Man’ and ‘Ex Machina’, ‘Runaways’ and ‘Pride of Baghdad’, as well as writing for Batman and X-Men. He has also written for the series ‘Lost’ between 2007-09.
Under the Dome is a supernatural thriller revolves around locals at a Maine vacation spot who battle one another when a force field suddenly surrounds their town and cuts them off from the rest of the world. DreamWorks’ Steven Spielberg and Stacey Snider originally secured the rights to King’s novel shortly after it was published in November 2009.
Famke Beumer Janssen (born 5 November 1964) is a Dutch actress and former fashion model. She is best known for playing the villainous Bond girl Xenia Onatopp in ‘GoldenEye’ (1995) and Jean Grey/Phoenix in the X-Men film series (2000-06).
Janssen was born in Amstelveen, the Netherlands. Her first name, Famke, means “little girl” in West Frisian, the native language of the Dutch province Friesland. In 1984, Janssen moved to the United States to begin her professional career as a fashion model.
After retiring from modelling in the early 1990s, Janssen had guest roles on several television series, including a starring role in the 1992 Star Trek: The Next Generation episode ‘The Perfect Mate’, as empathic metamorph Kamala, opposite Patrick Stewart, with whom she later starred in the X-Men film series.
In 1995, Janssen appeared in Pierce Brosnan’s first James Bond film, ‘GoldenEye’, as Femme Fatale Xenia Onatopp. In an attempt to fight against typecasting after her Bond girl performance, Janssen began seeking out more intriguing support roles, appearing in John Irvin’s ‘City of Industry’, Woody Allen’s ‘Celebrity’, Robert Altman’s ‘The Gingerbread Man’, and Ted Demme’s ‘Monument Avenue’. In the late 1990s, she also appeared in ‘The Faculty’, ‘Rounders’, ‘Deep Rising’ and ‘House on Haunted Hill’.
In 2000, Janssen played superheroine Dr. Jean Grey/Phoenix in ‘X-Men’. She reprised the role in bothe sequels, ‘X2’ (2003) and ‘X-Men: The Last Stand’ (2006), for which she won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. In addition, Janssen had a prominent role in the second season of the popular TV series ‘Nip/Tuck’, as the seductive and manipulative life coach Ava Moore. She reprised her role in the final two episodes of the series.