Paramount sued over ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ copyright

LOS ANGELES • The heirs of an author whose article inspired the 1986 film “Top Gun” have sued Paramount Pictures for copyright infringement, according to court documents.

Three decades after the blockbuster original, which was based on Ehud Yonay’s 1983 magazine article “Top Guns”, Paramount released a sequel last month that has topped North America’s box office.

In their complaint filed on Monday to a California court, Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay, the writer’s widow and son who live in Israel, allege that the story’s copyright was returned to them in 2020, “but Paramount deliberately ignored this, thumbing its nose at the statute”.

“The Yonays contend and Paramount denies that the 2022 Sequel, like the 1986 Film, is derived from the Author’s Story,” the complaint reads.

The Yonays are seeking to prevent Paramount from distributing its sequel, as well as unspecified damages.

A spokesperson for Paramount told multiple news outlets on Monday that the claims were “without merit”. “We will defend ourselves vigorously.”

“Top Gun: Maverick” picks up the story of the now-greying US Navy pilot Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, played by Tom Cruise, as he trains young aviators for a mission to attack a nuclear facility in a rogue state.

The 2022 action drama soared to a second huge showing in North American theatres during the weekend, taking in an estimated US$86 million (RM363.82 million).

That number placed it among the top 10 highest-grossing second weekends in domestic box office history. It took in US$151 million last weekend.

The film — whose release had been delayed two years by the Covid-19 pandemic — notched US$124 million for the first three days of the Memorial Day weekend in May, despite not playing in China or Russia. It was Cruise’s first opening to top US$100 million.

The Paramount/Skydance film has earned US$257 million abroad, the latest sign of Hollywood’s recovery from a bleak pandemic period. –AFP