Paramount hit with lawsuit over ‘Top Gun’ sequel copyright

An article published in the May 1983 issue of the California magazine inspired the original “Top Gun”, which became the #1 film of 1986.

NEW YORK – The widower and son of the man who wrote the 1983 article that inspired the original “Top Gun” movie is suing Paramount Pictures over its sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick.”

In their complaint filed in California federal court on Monday, Shosh Yonay and Yuval Yonay claim that the rights to Ehud Yonay’s story were returned to them on January 24, 2020. The lawsuit disputes that Paramount, which produced and distributed the sequel, did not re-claim those rights before releasing the film in May.

A spokesperson for Paramount Pictures said in a statement that these claims “have no merit and we will vigorously defend ourselves.”

The lawsuit says that Paramount was told in 2018 that Yonays intended to reinstate the copyright under a provision that would allow artists to do so after 35 years. According to the lawsuit, Yonays sent a cease and desist letter in early May, to which Paramount responded that the film was fully completed by January 24, 2020, and was not Yonay’s article. Yonays countered that the film was a derivative of the 1983 article and that “Top Gun: Maverick” didn’t end until May 2021, more than a year after the copyright expired.

Yonay’s original article about the Naval Fighter Weapons School’s training program and the two pilots on the course, hotshot “Yogi” and his friend “Possum,” was published in the California magazine issue. May 1983. Soon after, Paramount Pictures acquired the exclusive rights to the motion picture rights. “Top Gun” was released in 1986 and went on to become the number 1 movie of the year.

The sequel has been in development for years and was originally slated for a July 2019 release but has been delayed several times — first for casual reasons and then because of the COVID-19 pandemic . “Top Gun: Maverick” finally hit theaters on May 27, spent two weeks at the top of the box office and grossed over $557 million in worldwide ticket sales. Paramount hit with lawsuit over ‘Top Gun’ sequel copyright

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