Hollywood keeps a close eye on “Premium Rush” breach of contract suit

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Miami fans of actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt might not have realized that his next movie, “Premium Rush,” is the subject of some litigation that is being watched very closely in Hollywood.

That’s because the author of the book “Ultimate Rush” is alleging breach of implied contract with his claim that Sony executives stole his idea and made “Premium Rush” without giving him money or credit.

The reason other movie studios are very interested in this lawsuit is that breach of implied contract is easier to win than copyright infringement, so plaintiffs have turned increasingly to using the former cause of action instead of the latter. If the author here prevails, it may mean that all of Hollywood has to be more careful about where and how they secure their ideas for future films. It might also mean a windfall for writers and other creative people who contribute to a film because they will likely have to be paid to ensure there isn’t a lawsuit.

In this case, the author is having a little trouble because it seems he cannot definitivelyprove that Sony executives read his book and then ordered a rip-off of it to be written as a script. But then again, the judge refused Sony’s request to dismiss the author’s suit because it wasn’t entirely clear that the author’s expectation of payment was unreasonable. Not many people saw that coming and it added some steam to the author’s case.

However the case is decided, it will be interesting to see how it impacts entertainment, copyright and contract law in the future.

“Premium Rush” is released Aug. 24.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Judge Rejects Sony Attempt to Kill ‘Premium Rush Lawsuit,'”Eriq Gardner, July 6, 2012