The war of words between investors of action film Wolf Warrior (戰狼) continues as the unfair competition and copyright infringement lawsuit brought on by one of the first film’s original investors is waiting to be heard in Chinese court.
Last month, Wuhan Legend Film & TV Art Co. Ltd – one of the four investors of Wolf Warriors – filed a lawsuit in Beijing’s Haidian District People’s Court against actor and director Wu Jing’s Beijing Dengfeng International Cultural Diffusion Co. Ltd, accusing it of producing a sequel to the film without the company’s permission.
Wuhan Legend claims that it invested RMB3 million (US$441,000) in the original film and that it is entitled to hold a 20% stake in the Wolf Warrior brand. Therefore, Beijing Dengfeng does not have to right to make another film based on the brand name without its permission and participation. Wuhan Legend is seeking RMB10 million (US$1.47 million) in damages and a stop to the release of Wolf Warrior 2 (戰狼2) in cinemas, on television and internet video platforms.
Late last month, Beijing Dengfeng and co-investor Beijing Qingshan Yishui Investment (formerly Chunqiu Time Films) released statements stating that Beijing Dengfeng is the sole copyright holder of Wolf Warrior. Qingshan Yishui says that it did not sign any agreement with Wuhan Legend, and therefore, Wuhan Legend does not hold a stake in the Wolf Warrior brand. It also insists that its planned July 28th release date will not be changed.
This week, Wuhan Legend released a response restating its arguments. It claims that it was involved in the investment, production and marketing of the original film – which was a surprise box office hit that grossed RMB545 million (US$80.2 million) at the box office – and that it should have a stake in any profit made off the Wolf Warrior name. It also insists that it joining the production at a later stage does not affect its ownership of the brand name. The company vows to see the case to the very end.
Last August, local media reported that producers have already signed an RMB800 million (US$118 million) minimum guarantee agreement with Beijing Culture Entertainment and Beijing United Entertainment Partners Culture & Media before the film went into production, with Beijing Dengfeng receiving RMB217 million (US$31.9 million) for the RMB150 million (US$22.1 million) production. Under the agreement, the film must be released between July 1 and August 18, 2017. If the film is still not released by December 30, 2018, the full fee must be returned with 10% interest.
Last month, the Wolf Warrior 2 team also had to release an apology when a special effects shot in the trailer appeared to have been copied from X-Men: First Class.
In 2013, Wuhan Huaqi Movies & TV Production Co. – one of the investors on Lost on Journey (人在囧途) – sued Enlight Media for unfair competition and copyright infringement over the production of Lost in Thailand (人再囧途之泰囧). Huaqi claims that Enlight and co-producers misled people to believe that Lost in Thailand is a sequel to Lost on Journey since it shares a similar Chinese title and the film’s two main stars, Xu Zheng and Wang Baoqiang. Enlight was ordered to pay RMB5 million (US$735,000) in damages. An appeal was filed, but there has been no news of the case since then.