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Mortal Kombat Film Producer Sues Over MK IP Rights

06/25/2009 :: Posted at 05:03 PM by DArqueBishop

With Midway in the throes of Chapter 11 and a possible buyout from Warner Bros. looming, another player in the drama is making his voice heard. According to GamePolitics, Larry Kasanoff, the producer of the two Mortal Kombat films and owner of Threshold Entertainment, is suing Midway to preserve his IP rights, including copyrights to certain characters and the right to make derivative projects such as films and television series. From the news article:

Kasanoff claims that it was he who made Mortal Kombat more than just a video game:

In 1993, Kasanoff visited Midway... with an idea to launch the Mortal Kombat concept in a totally new direction. Specifically, Kasanoff proposed to develop... a full feature-length motion picture, a television series, and other productions. Midway was initially skeptical, as Kasanoff's idea was revolutionary at the time...

The Mortal Kombat series, as it stands today, is far more a creation of Threshold and Kasanoff than of Midway. Midway's creative input was almost entirely limited to the videogames. On their own, the videogames provided only minimal back-story and mythology, and only flat, "stock" characters... Kasanoff and Threshold were responsible for virtually all of the creative input that went into turning the videogame concept into a multimedia enterprise.

In his lawsuit, Kasanoff also claims credit for making MK characters like Liu Kang, Sonya Blade and Scorpion into recognizable names. The suit estimates that the franchise has grossed more than $4 billion over the years.

In petitioning the Bankruptcy Court, Kasanoff seeks to block the proposed sale of Mortal Kombat assets to Warner Bros.

It is unclear how Kasanoff arrived at his claim, however. Mortal Kombat was already a household name and the characters of Scorpion (with his "get over here!" catchphrase) were well known to the public. In addition, Midway themselves provided a great deal of backstory to the games in the form of comic books and in-game biographies. In fact, the only element from the movies and TV series to become part of the canon Mortal Kombat mythos is the character of Quan Chi, who premiered in the animated series Defenders of the Realm. Threshold itself has not been seen as a player in the Mortal Kombat franchise since 1999, when Mortal Kombat Conquest ended its run. While rumors of a third film have been floating around for years, nothing concrete has been seen, while several games from Midway have worked to expand the game mythos and history. In addition, with a couple of notable exceptions, the website run by Threshold has been virtually abandoned for years.

We'll be keeping an eye on this story; as we learn more, we'll be sure to report it here.

To read GamePolitics's story on this lawsuit (complete with Kasanoff's full complaint), click here.

Our thanks to forum/chat member samus_aran3900 for the heads-up about this news story!

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