The Hollywood Reporter is stating that Stan Lee Media Inc is suing the producers for the newly-released (and box office disappointing) Conan the Barbarian and seeking to get 100% of the movie’s gross. The reasoning behind it is because SLMI had the Conan rights since 2000 and when the company went bankrupt, the rights were protected, however, a former attorney for Lee allegedly made an illegal deal to grant the rights to Nu Image/Millennium Films, which produced the new “Conan”.
The company claims that the transfer of the “Conan” character is void because at that time in 2002, “the shares of Conan Properties and all other assets of SLMI were part of a bankruptcy estate and protected from unauthorized transfer by the automatic bankruptcy stay.”
SLMI says that the defendants obtained relief from the automatic stay in March 2002 by getting a judge to sign off on a “Settlement Approval Order” but that this order was itself void because the defendants didn’t provide notice and give 1,800 SLMI shareholders an opportunity to protect their interests by opposing the motion to transfer Conan.
Yet, in 2002, after Conan Sales Co. reacquired the rights to Conan, it sold those rights to a Swedish company called Paradox Entertainment, which has spent the last decade attempting to revive the character in video games, comics, etc. In its lawsuit against Conan Sales Co., Paradox, and others, SLMI is demanding it be restored the rights over the franchise and the defendants turn over all the proceeds from the movie.
Most interesting of all, SLMI is still in the process of suing Stan Lee himself and Marvel Entertainment for the rights to such their most prominent (read: marketable) characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Fantastic Four and many of the other major characters in the Marvel Universe.
So what’s your take on this, readers? I thought the estate of Robert E. Howard owned the rights to Conan and his world. Just bizarre. As of today, Conan The Barbarian has only grossed $10 million, a tenth of its budget. I haven’t seen any marketing for the movie, either, so that’s not a surprising number, but disheartening as I kind of dug it.