On December 16th, The Asylum is set to release The Day The Earth Stopped, their mockbuster version of Fox’s big budget The Day The Earth Stood Still remake starring Keanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly opening on December 12th. At least that was the plan. I know from my communications with past Asylum employees that they’ve raised the ire of Hollywood studios before, but never before has it led to legal action – until now.
Yahoo News has a story about Fox taking issue with The Asylum’s The Day The Earth Stopped and firing up their legal department to do something about it. Quoting Yahoo, “This week, the studio quietly took action against the Asylum, firing off a lengthy cease-and-desist letter and hiring attorneys to go after the prolific purveyor of high-end, low-budget knockoffs of Hollywood blockbusters.” High-end?
Continuing about the nature of the complaint, “Produce a movie with themes similar to an upcoming blockbuster, then borrow a trick from the porn industry and title it something comically derivative, create parallel marketing materials and take advantage of the millions the studios spend to promote their hits. Can they do that? Fox, especially litigious among media conglomerates, seems to be willing to find out.”
The Asylum has no comment at this time.
The Day The Earth Stopped has gigantic Robotjox-like mechs from outer space arriving on our planet along with a hot alien babe with a potentially fatal agenda for the human race. Given that the only people capable of convincing these extraterrestrials that humanity deserves to exist are C. Thomas Howell (who also directs) and Judd Nelson, I assume the movie ends with the total obliteration of mankind.
The Yahoo article goes on to say, “Then there’s the question of whether the new title causes a “likelihood of confusion” in the marketplace or competes unfairly with the original. That’s where marketing materials — especially those featuring nearly identical typefaces and spherical blobs — might raise copyright and trademark eyebrows.”
I’d argue at this point if you go into a video store and pick-up Snakes on a Train, Transmorphers, I Am Omega, or Alien vs. Hunter thinking you’re getting their big screen counterpart, honestly, isn’t it really your fault for being too dumb or just not paying attention?
Then again, the studios have gotten into the habit of having to include the line “only in theaters” in TV spots for many films since so many dolts out there do have a habit of watching a commercial for a blockbuster movie about to open in theaters and then calling their local Blockbuster to ask if they have it in yet.
So will The Day The Earth Stopped still make its December DVD release date or will it end up mired in legal action for who knows how long? Could it even end up in the same boat as the long banned Italian-produced Jaws rip-off The Last Shark? And if this does go sour for The Asylum will this be the end of the mockbuster? Will they – god forbid – be forced to produce original films based on original ideas? Do we even want to live in a world without Asylum mockbusters? Wouldn’t that be as empty as a world without Charles Band producing killer puppet movies?
Stay tuned for further developments.
In the meantime, here’s the trailer for The Day The Earth Stopped which may or may not come out on December 16th.
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