Next stop on the reboot train is King Kong and with old stories being rehashed into new movies, lawsuits like this are bound to happen. An artist claims that Legendary and Warner Bros. have stolen his idea for the King King prequel story, Skull Island, and have conspired to cut him out of the profits.Joe DeVito is a painter, sculptor and illustrator that has worked on some of the most iconic properties of all time including Batman, Superman and *World of Warcraft*. In 1992, DeVito began work on a prequel project for *King King*, whose original story is in the public domain and free to be exploited by anyone. DeVito created a prequel and a sequel to the giant monkey tale and filed for a copyright registration for his story, *Skull Island*. Later this year, *Kong of Skull Island*, a six part comic book from DeVito will be published as well. In 2014, DeVito pitched his story to Legendary and later Warner Bros. as a television series with story, images and all; during this time, DeVito claims Legendary and Warner Bros. had no plans to produce any other *King Kong* related prequel movie. Shortly thereafter, at San Diego Comic Con, Legendary announced plans for *Skull Island, a* prequel to the original King Kong story which is scheduled to be released in March 2017. *Skull Island* features Tom Hiddleston and the story will eventually crossover with the *Godzilla* movies.
DeVito claims that Legendary and Warner Bros. continue to use “ideas” and the framework of the story for the new movie Skull Island. Notably, DeVito does not sue for copyright infringement because he has not yet seen the movie or read the script but he does sue Legendary and Warner Bros. of breach if implied contract for shutting him out of the deal and having his ideas stolen. DeVito seeks at least $1 million each from Legendary and Warner Bros.
Suits like this are quit common for movies. Legendary and Warner Bros., if they are to defend this case, will likely have evidence that it has been developing the project long before it met with DeVito and the story elements were not taking from his pitch. There are only so many stories one can develop when creating King Kong’s origin and there is bound to be some overlap but this does not rise to the level of liability unless the movie companies completely stole DeVito’s work while cutting him out. This lawsuit will not hold up production of the film as it continues to shoot for its 2017 release.