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Filmism.net Dispatch January 3, 2015

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Ah, the mystique of Hollywood. The Chinese Theatre, the iconic sign, the screaming crowds, the red carpet. And don't forget the lawsuits, as much a part of the whole melting pot of the movie industry as any other long-extolled Tinseltown hallmark.

As I've always maintained, you don't really know if your movie is a hit until someone sues you for stealing your idea. All the respectable blockbusters fend off their share of them.

It happened to James Cameron over Terminator 2: Judgement Day, which was curious because it was essentially a remake of the first movie, only with the Terminator as the protector instead of Kyle Reese.

He got socked with no less than four lawsuits over Avatar. J K Rowling was sued over Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by the author of a 1987 kids' book, who inexplicably waited until 11 years after she published it to sue her.

And yet, nobody from Warner Brothers or Stephen King's publisher bothered to sue the South African publisher of a book based on the wacky story Jack Torrance writes while going crazy in The Shining (page after page of 'all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy'). If I didn't know better I'd think all these plagiarism lawsuits that take off in the wake of blockbuster movies like detritus in a stiff wind are trying to cash in on someone else's profit rather than assert true literary ownership. But that'd just be cynical of me.

So I was kind of bemused early this year when Disney sued a movie called Frozen Land out of existence. The lawsuit alleged the film changed its original title The Legend of Sarila to cash in on the success of Disney's surprise Christmas 2013 smash Frozen , and Mauschwitz' considerable legal muscle prevailed when the production company backed off.

And yet look at Escape From Tomorrow, a no-budget thriller shot in secret inside Disneyworld Orlando without the company's permission, with a story containing decidedly family–unfriendly themes and riffing heavily on Disney's own intellectual property for the marketing. Nobody raised a peep in objection.

Maybe they decided any legal action would just call more attention to Escape From Tomorrow and make them look like the clueless, bumbling bad guy. But it makes Hollywood's legal underpinnings as much a spectator sport as the movies up on the screen, and it bodes really well for my backers and I when cameras roll on our porn parody Tar and Feathered II: Deep Inside Daisy Duck, don't you think?

But rest assured, Disney is working according to a carefully thought out plan to deal with all these legal scraps. How do we know? Practice. It spent as much time in 2014 defending in court as it did making movies, here and here.

In other news, there's been a sudden glut of werewolf movies recently. The bad news is that like almost every werewolf movie of the last three decades (apart from Dog Soldiers and Ginger Snaps), they're all shit. By all means seek out Werewolf Rising, Wolves and Late Phases, but don't say you weren't warned. I've suffered through them so you don't have to.

But I did absolutely love Triangle, an exercise in drum-tight story-telling that will keep you bolt upright in your seat and leave you thinking about it long after it's over.

I also saw Paul Thomas Anderson's most out and out comedy, Inherent Vice. Well made? Absolutely. Good? Um....

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