In probably a first of its kind development, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc has issued a public notice against remaking its 2006 Oscar winner ‘The Departed’. The notice, put up by their attorneys that appeared in a leading national daily on March 3, 2009, stated: “Members of the public and the film fraternity is put on notice that our client Warner Bros Entertainment Inc (Warner) is the sole and exclusive copyright owner in many cinematograph films, in particular the film titled The Departed”.
The notice goes on to state: “The Departed was based on a 2002 film entitled Infernal Affairs to which Warner owns the sole and exclusive remake rights. Accordingly, Warner has the exclusive right to exercise all rights in and to the script, screenplay and the motion picture remake rights to Infernal Affairs.”
The notice cites certain press reports which had mentioned that certain parties were in the process of producing a film in Hindi based upon ‘The Departed’. However, no person or persons have been named in the notice.
A quick Google search reveals reports of filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma denying that he was remaking ‘The Departed’ in Hindi.
The notice further states: “Warner has not licensed any party to remake or make any film based upon Warner’s said film or remake rights and shall initiate legal proceedings against any film having a similar script, screenplay or story line or character sketches or interplay of characters or sequence of events, either in English or Hindi or any other language, to The Departed or Infernal Affairs, which would constitute infringement of Warner’s copyrights and remake rights.”
It may be recalled that The Departed had bagged four Oscars in 2006, including one for Best Film. The film, starring A-List Hollywood stars like Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson and Mark Walhberg, is a police thriller based in Boston, Massachusetts.
How much impact such a notice from a major Hollywood studio would have on the Bollywood film industry remains to be seen. As it is, there is no dearth of ‘inspired’ remakes in Bollywood, where entire movies have been lifted with impunity for decades.
It may be recalled that in 2007, Hollywood actor Will Smith’s production house Overbrook Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment were contemplating a legal suit of $30 million against Eros Entertainment and K Sera Sera for the Salman-Govinda starrer ‘Partner’, which was a direct lift-of of Will Smith’s comedy ‘Hitch’. The fate of that law suit is not known.
However, what is important to note is that Bollywood is coming increasingly under the scanner of international film studios as more and more movies are released abroad and the huge revenues involved is making it all the more imperative to keep a sharp lookout for plagiarisms.