Friday, December 30, 2011

Gary Friedrich loses fight for Ghost Rider movie money

Poor guy.  A New York judge ruled in favor of Marvel in Gary Friedrich's lawsuit against the company over the movie rights to Ghost Rider.  I didn't see the movie, but enough people did there are piles of money lying around, enough for a sequel and with plenty left over for everyone involved except Friedrich.  I really feel for Friedrich here, especially after reading the quote from his deposition where he states "he stopped doing freelance comic-book writing in 1978 when his alcoholism got 'completely out of control.'"

At the same time, I don't see how this lawsuit could have ended any differently.  From the article:

He said he thought he had given Marvel the rights to use Ghost Rider in comic books, but that he retained the rights for movies and anything else.

"Was that understanding ever reduced to writing?" Marvel attorney David Fleischer asked.

"No," Friedrich answered.

Quite the opposite from the denouement of Stan the Man v. Spider-Man, where Stan Lee had it all in writing and sued his way to a ten percent share of the Sony Spidey loot, which is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of several billion dollars and a couple of those new earth-like planets the Kepler space telescope investigators recently discovered, or however they divide that stuff up with all the crazy studio accounting and pay-offs and financial frippery and monetary mumbo-jumbo.  Only true Hollywood geniuses understand that stuff and people like us got no chance of standin' up against 'em.  Friedrich's case is very much in line with what happened when Jack Kirby's heirs sued Marvel, though.  Work-for-hire and freelance means you give away all your creator rights in favor of an immediate paycheck.  Ask George Lucas what he thinks about retaining certain rights whenever you create something, even if that something is made up of bits and pieces of better creations.

Here's a sweet blog with a scan of a 1978 Marvel work-for-hire agreement, and someone quoting one from around 1990 in the comments.  I don't know what one of these consists of today, but that's the kind of thing you had to sign if you wanted to work for Marvel not long after Friedrich and the comics company parted ways.

Anyway, for what it's worth, it was a noble effort, Mr. Friedrich.  I wish it had worked out for you.  I'm glad I didn't see Ghost Rider, though.  There's only so much Nicholas Cage screaming I can stand, unless it's Nick Cage in Raising Arizona.  Man, that movie rocks!

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