While the Evil Dead reboot being produced by Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell has started production, another Evil Dead movie is in development without the guys who started the horror franchise. A production company called Award Pictures is attempting to make a fourth sequel to The Evil Dead, called Evil Dead 4: Consequences and Raimi has filled a lawsuit against them.
Award Pictures claims that they own the rights to the franchise, and according to THR “they’re using Raimi’s own comment in a 2000 book that he would never do a sequel as proof that the “Evil Dead” trademark was abandoned. The company now says it is the primary trademark holder of the film title.” All Raimi was doing at that time was lowering fans’ expectations, so they wouldn’t get their hopes up in case it never did happen. But just because he says something obviously doesn’t mean it will never happen.
Raimi, Campbell, and Tapert started Renaissance Pictures in 1979 for the purpose of making the first film, and at the time they teamed up with Awards Pictures to get it made.
Here’s a detailed explanation of what is going on…
Renaissance says in its lawsuit that fans “have long been eager for another installment,” and finally, in 2011, Raimi announced he would be co-writing and co-producing a remake of the original. Shortly before the announcement, Renaissance went to the U.S. Trademark Office to register the mark.
After Renaissance did so, an objection was filed by Award Pictures, which says it has been preparing its own Evil Dead film. The company says that Renaissance’s hold on “Evil Dead” was abandoned and thus, Award Pictures should be deemed as being a prior user.
In an effort to show abandonment, Award Pictures points to comments attributed to Raimi and Tapert in the 2000 book, The Evil Dead Companion: “Ha,” said Rob and Sam. “We’re never going to do a sequel.”
“This statement is a public declaration by the defendant that the defendant abandoned the alleged ‘mark,’ Evil Dead, decades ago,” says Award Pictures in papers to the USPTO’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.
Award Pictures goes on to say that even if Evil Dead was a valid mark upon the release of the first film, the sequels can’t be counted as continued use because they were both “works for hire” and “single works.” Additionally, the company points to 20 other motion pictures that have used “Evil Dead” within their title over the years, saying that Renaissance has exhibited “uncontrolled, unregulated, and undefended use of Evil Dead.” Finally, Award says Renaissance’s purported trademark claims constitute a defrauding of others in the entertainment industry.
Earlier this week, Renaissance struck back with a lawsuit against Award Pictures, saying it indeed has used its mark, for example licensing Evil Dead video games, dolls, clothing, memorabilia, comic books, etc.
According to the lawsuit, “As a result of Renaissance’s use of the EVIL DEAD mark and the cult success of the films and related products, the EVIL DEAD mark has acquired enormous value, has become famous among the relevant consuming public and motion picture trade, and is recognized as identifying and distinguishing Renaissance exclusively and uniquely as the source of goods sold and services provided under the EVIL DEAD mark.”
Renaissance says Award Pictures’ planned film entitled Evil Dead 4: Consequences, is intended to cause confusion to consumers, and also says that the key plot elements and character names “would inevitably infringe Renaissance’s copyright rights in The Evil Dead.”
Alleging trademark infringement, false advertising, injury to business reputation, Renaissance is asking for an injunction against further infringement and further monetary damages.
This is a sticky situation, but in my opinion the Evil Dead franchise means nothing without Raimi and Campbell’s involvement. That’s the only reason why I see hope for this reboot being developed. I think the fans would revolt if a sequel got made without Raimi. How do you think this will play out? Who do you think will win this case?