April 8, 2009 / 4:39 AM / 10 years ago

Warner Bros. warns Bollywood: Don't touch "Button"

NEW DELHI (Hollywood Reporter) - Fighting for its foothold in India’s growing movie market, Warner Bros. has threatened to sue anybody planning to remake “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” without its permission.

Warners’ threat appeared in local media advertisements Monday after reports that Bollywood producer Vipul Amrutlal Shah planned to make a Hindi-language film called “Action Replay,” in which actor Akshay Kumar would go through a reverse-aging process.

“We took the step of publishing a notice regarding the possible unauthorized remake of ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’ as part of that rigorous defense of our rights, and to ensure that the filmgoing public in India experience our movies in the way that they were intended,” Mumbai-based Warner Bros. India told The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday.

The ads, issued by New Delhi-based firm Lall and Sethi, say that Warners will sue anyone producing a film “either in English or Hindi or another language, having a similar script, screenplay or story line or character sketches or interplay of characters or sequence of events.”

“We hope that this will serve as a deterrent to any filmmaker planning an unauthorized remake,” attorney Chandler Lall said, adding that the Hollywood studio had issued similar notices in the past concerning such films as “The Departed,” which reportedly is slated for a Bollywood remake by producer Sajid Nadiadwala.

The case is just the latest in a long-standing Bollywood-Hollywood dispute over intellectual property rights.

Last year, Lall and Sethi issued a notice warning against unauthorized remakes of Sony Pictures’ “Jerry Maguire” as unconfirmed reports indicated that actor Salman Khan was planning to star in a Bollywood remake of the Tom Cruise hit.

Also last year, Warner Bros. took the producers of the Indian film “Hari Puttar: A Comedy of Terrors” to court, arguing that its name was too similar to the studio’s “Harry Potter” franchise.

The case was dismissed by the Delhi High Court, which said that the “Harry Potter” books are for “a different class of consumer who will not confuse ‘Harry Potter’ with ‘Hari Puttar.’”

Editing by Sheri Linden at Reuters

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