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Mutant X Articles: 4/9/01 Fox vs. Marvel X-Men lawsuit



Sci-Fi Wire: 4/9/01

Fox Sues Marvel Over Mutant X

Twentieth Century Film Corp. is suing Marvel Enterprises Inc., seeking unspecified damages over Marvel's plan to launch a new syndicated TV series entitled Mutant X, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fox claims that the proposed series, to be produced by Marvel in association with Tribune Entertainment and Fireworks Entertainment, is a carbon copy of X-Men, a Marvel property that Fox transformed into a hit feature in 2000 as the first of an intended film franchise.

Fox, in its suit, demands that production on Mutant X not move forward. Meanwhile, just hours after Fox filed its suit, Marvel filed one of its own in Manhattan Federal Court. Marvel argues that Mutant X is entirely different from X-Men.

Said Fox in a statement issued on Wednesday, "Although we value our good relationship with Marvel and hope this can be resolved, we must take all appropriate action to protect our very valuable X-Men rights."

© SciFi.com


E! Online Celeb Courthouse 4/10/01

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation v. Marvel Enterprises, Tribune Entertainment, et al.
Filed: April 10, 2001
U.S. District Court, Manhattan

The Case: Adam Xero. Shadowfox. Trinity. Fuse. Could they be next year's Halloween-costume craze? Not if 20th Century Fox has anything to say about it.

In a 29-page complaint charging breach of contract, unfair competition, copyright infringement and deceptive trade practices, Fox, which produced the 2000 summer blockbuster X-Men, seeks to bar Marvel Entertainment and Tribune Entertainment from producing a syndicated live-action TV series called Mutant X, featuring the aforementioned heroes.

While Marvel created both X-Men and Mutant X, Fox claims it actually has veto power when it comes to any live-action property relating to X-Men. The movie studio is crying foul at Marvel and Tribune (the show's syndicator) and their strategy to sell the Mutant X property. "They [Marvel and Tribune] are attempting inextricably to link Fox's X-Men with their Mutant X show, so as to capitalize on and exploit the significant success of the X-Men feature film franchise," according to court papers. Fox estimates it has ponied up $90 million to date to market X-Men.

The suit details "uncanny" similarities between the two projects, including logos, artwork and even font color.

Fox's biggest beef, however, is the concept. "Mutant X is essentially a thinly disguised version of the X-Men concept, themes and characters, and that therefore, Marvel's proceeding with this project would infringe upon Fox's intellectual property rights," the lawsuit reads.

"The basic premise...is identical to the X-Men story line: A superintelligent and wealthy 'good' mutant seeks out young mutants, trains them to use their powers and protects them from a potentially hostile world. In this venture, they are opposed by rival 'bad' mutants and humans who seek to eliminate or to control them."

Fox's complaint also describes the Mutant X characters as being copycats of the X-Men. Comparisons are made between the X-Men's leader, Professor X, and Adam Xero, the Mutant X father figure. Likewise, Fox finds Mutant X's Shadowfox to have raw strength, animal instincts and the tendency to erupt into "feral rage" similar to the characteristics of the well-known Wolverine. The studio points out that even the evil politicians hold the same office: Mutant X's villain is Senator Noah Kilmartin, X-Men's, Senator Robert Kelly.

Not only does Fox accuse Marvel of jumping on the mutant bandwagon, but the studio uses the suit to rub Marvel's nose in previous failures. "The blockbuster status of the live-action X-Men was a welcome change for Marvel, which to that point had not enjoyed the same success in the live-action treatments of its characters some of its competitors had--for example, with the Superman and Batman film franchises (Superman and Batman are characters owned by DC Comics, Marvel's chief competitor)."

Sidebar: While Fox finds fault with Mutant X's...well, everything, the TV show's premise differs greatly from the comic book's. The comic-book series, which launched in the 1990s, focuses on the adventures of the X-Men in an alternate dimension in which the characters are all the same, but their story lines are completely different. For instance, in the Mutant X world, Storm, the weather manipulator, became a vampire after getting bitten by Dracula. She now goes by the colorful alias Bloodstorm. Professor X and Cyclops--tried and true good guys in the X-Men universe--are despicable crooks in the Mutant X reality. (The comic book, ironically enough, is already slated for cancellation.)

Status: Approximately 13 minutes after Fox filed the suit, Marvel filed a countersuit claiming Fox's action is without merit because Mutant X is totally different from the X-Men property in terms of character likenesses, character names, character personalities, underlying premise and individual episode stories. Marvel also claims it cannot infringe its own trademarks. The comic book company seeks a declaratory judgment from the court that it did nothing wrong.

Marvel also claims Fox's action was deliberately timed to screw Mutant X show producers. The television series is scheduled to begin filming June 4 for broadcast this fall.

In August 2001, a federal judge allowed production on Mutant X to continue. But the ruling came after Marvel made several changes to its live-action series, including altering the show's logo so it doesn't resemble the one in the X-Men movie.

A week later, Fox filed new motions in the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals seeking to prevent Tribune Entertainment from using Mutant X as the show's title.

On March 3, 2003, Fox and Marvel jointly announced they had "amicably" settled the suit.

Terms of the settlement are confidential, but in a statement, the the studio and comic-book company said they had "amicably resolved our differences" and were looking forward to "expanding the relationship between Fox and Marvel."

The two entited recently collaborated to produce the box-office hit Daredevil (which already has two separate spinoffs in the works) and the would-be summer blockbuster X2, the sequel to X-Men.

© E! Online


Zap 2 It 4/11/01

Fox Calls 'Mutant X' a Copy of 'X-Men'
Wednesday, April 11, 2001

It's no longer just the networks suing other networks for creating copycat shows, now studios are getting into the action. Tribune Entertainment's upcoming syndicated show "Mutant X," has become embroiled in a legal battle with the studio 20th Century Fox, who wants to stop production on the series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Fox is claiming that the anticipated show is a look-alike of its box office hit "X-Men." "Mutant X," a co-production of Tribune, Marvel Comics and Fireworks Entertainment, chronicles the adventures of a group of human mutants who are bound together by extraordinary genetically engineered powers.

"Although we value our good relationship with Marvel and hope this can be resolved, we must take all appropriate action to protect our very valuable 'X-Men' rights," a statement issued Wednesday by 20th Century Fox said.

Within hours of the Fox suit being filed, Marvel initiated its own suit at Manhattan Federal Court stating that "Mutant" is totally different from "X-Men." The new TV series is based on the "X-Men" series conceived in 1963. Marvel later sold film rights to the X-Men characters to Fox.

Tribune and its partners on the series are at an advanced stage of distribution.

Tribune Entertainment could not be reached for comment.

Zap2it's parent company is a division of Tribune Co.


Zap 2 It 4/11/01

Tribune Says Fox Suit Is 'Without Merit'
Wednesday, April 11, 2001

Tribune Entertainment responded to 20th Century Fox's lawsuit against the production company saying that the case is "wholly without merit." Earlier that day, Fox announced that they were filing a lawsuit against Tribune Entertainment, claiming that Tribune's new syndicated live-action series "Mutant X" is a copy of the box office hit "X-Men."

"Mutant X," a co-production of Tribune, Marvel Comics and Fireworks Entertainment, chronicles the adventures of a group of human mutants who are bound together by extraordinary genetically engineered powers. Claiming they wanted to protect their rights of "X-Men," Fox filed the lawsuit in an attempt to stop production on the "Mutant X" series.

Within hours of the Fox suit being filed, Marvel initiated its own suit at Manhattan Federal Court stating that "Mutant" is totally different from "X-Men." The new TV series is based on the "X-Men" series conceived in 1963. Marvel later sold film rights to the X-Men characters to Fox.

"As the lawsuit filed by Marvel makes clear, the Fox claims are wholly without merit," reads Tribune's statement. "Marvel has assured us that live action 'X-Men' television series rights were never granted to Fox and, while we can understand Fox?s disappointment, it is troubling to see them making unwarranted claims with regard to 'Mutant X.'"

Tribune is moving forward with "Mutant X," which will premiere in fall 2001, with two-year commitments and double runs in 125 markets covering over 90 percent of the country.

Zap2it's parent company is a division of Tribune Co.

© Zap 2 It


Broadcasting & Cable 4/11/01

X marks the spot for Fox, Marvel
By Susanne Ault 4/11/2001 10:30:00 AM MT

20th Century Fox's film division is aiming to throw a wrench into Tribune Entertainment's new action hour, Mutant X, which has already cleared 90 percent of the country for a fall-2001 launch.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in New York against producer Marvel Enterprises Inc., Fox claimed that the show is a rip-off of its hit film, X-Men. But Marvel has filed a countersuit insisting that X-Men -- which is actually a Marvel comic -- and Mutant X are two different concepts.

Dick Askin, president and CEO of Tribune Entertainment, which is jointly producing Mutant X with Marvel, said in a statement Wednesday, 'The Fox claims are wholly without merit . and it's troubling to see them making unwarranted claims with regard to Mutant X.'

He added that Marvel only granted Fox the film rights to X-Men, anyway, and never the TV-series rights. Fox can't make a copycat argument to protect something that wasn't its to begin with, Askin said. With that said, 'Of course we're moving forward with Mutant X, more confident than ever that the show will be a great success,' he added.

At press time, a Fox spokesperson had no comment.

Rick Ungar, president of Marvel Characters Group and Mutant X executive producer, told B&C in January that the show shares some kinship with X-Men, saying, 'It's a spinoff in a sense, but it kind of takes it to the next level.'

© Broadcasting & Cable


Comics 2 Film 4/12/01

Reported By Associated Press, 4/12/2001:

It's mutant against mutant in U.S. District Court this week as both 20th Century Fox Film Corp. and Marvel Enterprises, Inc. filed opposing lawsuits in a dispute over the currently-in-development TV show Mutant X.

According to the Associated Press report Fox feels the new TV show cheapens their X-Men movie franchise and violates their contracts with Marvel. The contracts allowed creation of the X-Men movie and sequels in the future. However, the contracts also forbade the development of any related live-action TV shows without Fox's written consent.

Fox alleges that Mutant X characters and premises are virtually identical to X-Men and that the show has been marketed with similar logos and artwork in order to try to link the show to the movie.

Marvel also filed suit against Fox disputing the merits of the studio's case. Marvel asserts that Mutant X is totally different from X-Men in terms of character likenesses, character names, character personalities, underlying premise and individual episode stories. Marvel also asserts that it can't be found to be infringing on its own trademarks and wants a declaratory judgment from the court that it had done nothing wrong.

Marvel points to the timing of Fox's suit stating, "Fox has carefully waited until the last-minute to strike, a time when it would be the most difficult in all ways to cease production of the series." Cameras are set to roll on Mutant X on June 4.

© Comics 2 Film


Comics Continuum 4/12/01

FOX, MARVEL FILE SUITS OVER MUTANT X

Both 20th Century Fox and Marvel Enterprises file lawsuits Tuesday concerning a dispute over the Mutant X television series.

Fox alleges that Mutant X is too similar to X-Men and violates contracts that no related live-action X-Men television program could be made without Fox's consent. Marvel said in its lawsuit that Fox's claims are without merit because the characters are new and different from X-Men.

"Marvel doesn't comment on litigation," Marvel Studios' Rick Ungar, who developed the premise of Mutant X, told The Continuum on Wednesday.

Ungar has resisted calling the television show a spin-off of X-Men in previous interviews setting up the series.

"Everybody wants to make it that, but sorry," Ungar said earlier this year. "It would probably be fair to say it's a new generation of characters, but it's not the X-Men. The X-Men are the X-Men."

Ungar developed the show with Marvel Studios' Avi Arad, including writing the series bible.

Mutant X is scheduled to start shooting on June 4 to debut in late October in syndication.

© Comics Continuum


BBC News Online 4/12/01

X-Men battle in court

The rights to the popular X-Men characters are at the centre of a dispute between Marvel Enterprises, who devised the original comic book, and 20th Century Fox, who created a recent film version.

Fox is seeking unspecified damages against Marvel, alleging that a planned live-action TV series, called Mutant X, cheapens the studio's X-Men movie.

But Marvel has said in its lawsuit that Fox's claims are without foundation because the series is totally different from the X-Men concept.

Both companies filed lawsuits in the US District Court, in Manhattan, New York, within minutes of each other on Tuesday.

Superhuman powers
The X-Men was developed by Marvel in 1963, based on people with genes which give them superhuman powers.

Characters include Professor X, Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Magneto and the Toad.

Fox says Mutant X characters are virtually identical to those of X-Men and have been marketed with similar logos and artwork to make the public believe that the television show and the movie are related.

The lawsuit says Marvel Enterprises has violated state and federal laws by ignoring contracts it had signed with Fox which allowed creation of the X-Men movie and sequels in the future.

According to the lawsuit, Marvel also guaranteed no related live-action television programme would be made without Fox's written consent.

"Although we value our good relationship with Marvel and hope this can be resolved, we must take all appropriate action to protect our very valuable X-Men rights," a statement issued by Fox said.

The £52m movie, starring Patrick Stewart, made more than £104m in the US alone and sequels are in the pipeline.

New series
Marvel says the new series is different in terms of "character likenesses, character names, character personalities, underlying premise and individual episode stories".

The company says it cannot be found to be infringing its own trademarks and has asked for a declaratory judgment from the court that it had done nothing wrong.

A spokesman for Marvel said: "Notably, Fox has carefully waited until the last-minute to strike, a time when it would be the most difficult in all ways to cease production of the series."

The television series is scheduled to begin filming on 4 June for broadcast in the autumn.

© BBC News


Cinescape 4/16/01

TRIBUNE REJECTS FOX MUTANT X CLAIMS
Monday, April 16, 2001 By: ERIC J. MOREELS, EDITOR

Tribune Entertainment president and chief executive Dick Askin has weighed in on the Fox vs Marvel legal battle over the Mutant X syndicated TV series, claiming that Fox`s assertions that the series is a rip off, designed to capitalize on the success of the X-Men movie are "unwarranted".

In a statement issued to the Hollywood Reporter, Askin said, "As the lawsuit filed by Marvel makes clear, the Fox claims are wholly without merit. Marvel has assured us that live-action X-Men television rights were never granted to Fox and, while we can understand Fox`s disappointment, it is troubling to see them making unwarranted claims with regard to Mutant X."

Mutant X producer Rick Ungar told E! Online this weekend that "We really did not want to go back and try and do the X-Men again. We were hugely careful, for several reasons. Number one of which is we would never do anything to breach our very good relationship with Fox. And number two, we would never do anything to compromise the movies."

Unlike the Mutant X comic, which featured "alternate reality" versions of key X-Men characters, the TV series revolves around brand new heroes - a group of people altered before birth to be genetically perfect but instead develop superhuman powers.

"You have this group in the comic book and this group on the TV show and they all have super powers," added former Mutant X series editor Frank Pittarese. "You could argue they`re identical and you can argue that they`re completely different."

"None of the characters on the show has any relation to the comic book," added Pittarese. "On the other hand, the attention that the show`s getting is because of the `X` brand. That movie made the X-Men a household name. Now Tribune`s trying to sell this show. Distributors are asking, `Why should I watch this show?` `Well, did you see the X-Men? Well, it`s like the X-Men.` There`s something to be said on both sides."

Barring any injunctions, Mutant X is slated to begin shooting June 4 and be on the schedule for the fall season.

© Cinescape


Excerpt from Comics Continuum 4/27/01

AVI ARAD TALKS X-MEN SEQUEL, FF

Marvel's Avi Arad told The Continuum that he hopes that the X-Men sequel can reach theaters in November 2002.
....
Despite litigation between Fox and Marvel over the Mutant X television series, Arad said it's business as usual between Marvel and the studio.

"The controversy with Fox doesn't change our relationship with them. They're doing what they think they're supposed to do," Arad said, noting he couldn't get into any legal details.

Look for more from Arad on Monday.

© Comics Continuum


IGN 10/25/01

Has the Villain of X-Men 2 Been Unmasked?!
by Stax

October 25, 2001 - A secret source for Comics2Film, identified only as a law student taking a course on intellectual property, claims that the identity of the villain in X-Men 2 was revealed within court documents filed in the "20th C Fox Film Corp v Marvel Enterprises Inc." lawsuit. As you may already know, Fox (the studio behind the X-Men movies) is suing Marvel/Tribune Entertainment for breach of contract over their new TV series Mutant X. Basically, Fox claims that Mutant X is simply a watered down version of X-Men and that only Fox has the right to exploit this material for film or TV. What concerns us here isn't the nitty gritty of a legal case but rather what juicy tidbits about X-Men 2 may have been revealed in the court documents relating to it.

C2F's source claims to have discovered this information while reading "a court ruling dated August 10, 2001. The ruling summarizes filings by Fox that were filed in April of this year. ... (In) their efforts to find similarities (between X-Men and Mutant X) ... (Fox) focused part of their argument on Mutant X's villain Mason Eckhart. ... Fox itself compares Eckhart to the villain in the proposed X-Men sequel, X-2, William Stryker (C2F's emphasis), who also has a mysterious past and previously participated in covert operations."

© IGN


Excerpts from IESB 10/19/10

IESB Exclusive: Disney Targets Sony and Fox Franchises
Written by IESB Staff Tuesday, 19 October 2010 00:13

There are four Marvel franchises that Disney does not control and word is they want them back. Three are controlled by 20th Century Fox and one by Sony.

Let's start with the Fox controlled Marvel properties.
....
X-MEN - This one, by far, is the biggie, the X-Men franchise and the entire X-Men Universe. The four X-Men films have brought in a staggering $1.54 billion dollars plus what is believed to be close to another $500 million in DVD sales and TV broadcast rights. That's approximately 2 billion dollars...a lot of money to say the least. All four films had a combined budget cost of approx $500 million dollars.
....
Disney will never and I mean never, ever, not in a 100 years, get this property back under the control of Marvel Entertainment, just not going to happen. Fox owns all of these properties for perpetuity, in other words, for-ev-ver....for-ev-ver...

Moving on to TV. If the feature films angle doesn't work, can Disney/Marvel possibly move forward with live action TV series based on the Daredevil, X-Men or Fantastic Four characters? Simply put "NO."

Fox has sued Marvel once before regarding the "Mutant X" fiasco. In those court documents a few interesting tidbits of the original rights deal are revealed.

They mean business -

In October 1993, Marvel and Fox signed an agreement (the "1993 Agreement") pursuant to which Marvel licensed to Fox all the rights that Fox may require in order to produce, distribute, exploit, advertise, promote, and publicize theatrical motion pictures based on the "X-Men" comic book series. The "X-Men" comic book series, referred to in the Agreement as the "Property," includes the X-Men Characters, specifically the "core" Characters and the Characters of the "X-Universe";  their origin stories;  storylines from individual comic books;  and "all other elements relating to the Property and the Characters."   The rights granted to Fox included "the right to use the title (or subtitle or portion of the title) of the Property or any component of the Property as the title of any Picture or related exploitation."   The Agreement reserved all television rights to Marvel, subject to a proviso, critical to Fox's pending contract claim, that Marvel would not "produce, distribute or exploit or authorize the production, distribution or exploitation of any live-action motion picture" without Fox's consent (the "Freeze").

From what we've been told, the lawyers at Disney have poured over the "Mutant X" case to find some wiggle room, but, due to the settlement between Fox and Marvel, it looks like Disney is shit out of luck. Their only hope is if Fox is willing to hand over rights to characters Disney would like to use. But, word on the street is Fox has made it very clear that they will not let go of any of the properties under their control for any live action medium.

© IESBfree hit counter
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