Movie studio Warner Bros has found itself on the receiving end of one of the odder lawsuits to come through Hollywood in recent years, courtesy of its ‘Based on the Case Files of the Warrens’ marketing around the movie series ‘The Conjuring’.
The series is based upon the memoirs of paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren, who gained infamy for their tales of a series of ghostly activity that supposedly occurred. These stories are documented in the autobiographical and ‘non-fiction’ novel, the Demonologist, by litigant Gerard Brittle, who claims the pair signed away the rights to their life story back in 1979 to him.
“This pattern of ongoing infringement by Defendants in the instant matter has caused Brittle irreparable harm,” reads the latest lawsuit in the saga against the studio.
Warner Bros said it received permission to create the Conjuring franchise from the Warrens, the series has so far generated in excess of $895,000,000 in revenues - with more sequels in the works.
The studio issued a response which may land it in a degree of trouble – it claims movies were not based upon the books, the sole documentation of the hauntings, but instead based upon “historical facts” – enacting one of the most improbable intellectual rights defenses the industry may ever witness.
Brittle has countered the response by claiming that the Warrens’ encounters were in actuality fictitious - an self-inflicted wound upon his ‘non-fiction’ book that harms the studios ‘historical facts’ defence. He claims he believed them at the time and has since rethought his initial stance.
The author’s lawyer alleges: “This is a pattern of deceit that is part of a scheme that the Warrens have perpetuated for years. There are no historical facts of a witch ever existing at the Perron farmhouse, a witch hanging herself, possession, Satanic worship or child sacrifice.”
Furthermore, a 2011 tweet from Conjuring and Conjuring 2 director James Wan also proves he was familiar with the source material years before the movie’s release.
I watch/read a lot of scary stories. But fuck, THE DEMONOLOGIST, true life account of Ed & Lorraine Warren, is the scariest book I've read.
— James Wan (@creepypuppet) November 30, 2011
Read the lengthy legal documentation here. In it, Brittle chases unspecified, but no doubt lucrative, damages.