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EDITIONS
Thursday, 5 December, 2002, 09:33 GMT
Exorcist creators lose legal battle
The Exorcist
The Exorcist: Second most successful re-release
A US federal court has thrown out a lawsuit brought by the writer and director of cult horror classic The Exorcist saying the two men had no copyright to a version of the film released in 2000.

Film maker William Friedkin and writer William Blatty argued that they own the copyright to the 2000 version and that Warner Brothers had no right to distribute the movie.


Both Bill Blatty and I have total confidence that we will prevail

William Friedkin
They said that they contributed "original works of authorship" to the new version, involving 11 minutes of new footage and reworking of other material added to the 1973 release.

But the judge said that Mr Friedkin and Mr Blatty's intepretation of the US Copyright Act "turned the statute" on its head. The pair intend to appeal.

'Opinion'

The two men said they were not paid for the new film, but admitted they did earn $2.8m (1.7m) for Blatty and $800,000 (509,000) for Friedkin, as profit particpants from the 2000 version as part of an original agreement signed for the movie.

"We intend to appeal the District opinion," said Mr Friedkin, "and both Bill Blatty and I and our attorneys have total confidence that we will prevail."

District Court Judge Lourdes Baird dismissed their case in its entirety.

Judge Baird found Mr Friedkin had no copyright interest in either version of the film and that Warner Bros and Mr Blatty were co-owners of the copyrights to both films. The judge also found the writer had granted Warners the exclusive right to remake the film.

'Date set'

Mr Friedkin and Mr Blatty have a separate case stemming from 2000's Exorcist pending in Los Angeles Superior Court.

In that case, the pair say that Warner Bros. sold network broadcast rights to CBS at the below-market price of $1.5m.

"We have a trial date set in Superior Court for April 2003," said Mr Friedkin.

"Warners tried and failed to get that suit dismissed."

The 2000 version of The Exorcist became the second most successful re-issue behind the Star Wars series after it went back to cinemas.

The film - dubbed "the scariest movie ever made" - is about the demonic possession of 12-year-old Regan MacNeil and a Jesuit priest's attempts to banish evil from her.

See also:

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