parodies have been surprisingly successful at avoiding
lawsuits, given their use of copyrighted characters
and the usual willingness of film companies to sue
anyone who treads on their toes. Some think it’s
due to George Lucas losing a case against an animated
Star Wars porn spoof many years ago
– a case that essentially confirmed that satire
is protected when no one could be expected to confuse
the two products (i.e. no one is gong to buy Star
Wars XXX under the mistaken belief that
they are buying Star Wars). Others
have hinted at studios giving unofficial and unpublicized
permission in exchange for payments.
However, Universal have decided enough is enough and
are suing Smash Pictures (amongst others) over their
Fifty Shades of Grey: a XXX Adaptation.
The film rights to the Fifty Shades of Grey
trilogy (which, lest we forget, began life as an unofficial
porn fan fiction parody of Twilight)
were bought by Universal at great expense, so it's
probably irksome for a porno version to emerge before
they even have a screenplay in place. They are probably
also aware that the XXX version of the film(s) will
be more accurate to the flavour and nature of the
books than any mainstream, R-rated major studio film
ever could be.
Universal is joined in the lawsuit by 50 Shades Ltd,
author EL James' company. Company defendants include
Chatsworth, California-based Smash, Right Ascension
Inc., Adult DVD Empire and Luv Moves, which, according
to The Hollywood Reporter, "is
alleged to have packaged the DVD with sex toys in
a kit called 'Fifty Shades of Pleasure: Play Kit &
Individual defendants include Smash owner Daniel Quinn,
Smash VP Stuart Wall and "James Lane aka
Jim Powers, of Northridge, the alleged 'writer and
director of the XXX adaptations.'"
Oddly, the wording of the 31-page complaint is probably
the best advertising the film could have.
"By lifting exact dialogue, characters, events,
story, and style from the Fifty Shades
trilogy,Smash Pictures ensured that the first XXX
adaptation was, in fact, as close as possible to the
"Beginning with the first XXX Adaptation's opening
scene and continuing throughout the next 21⁄2
hours of the film, Smash Pictures copies without reservation
from the unique expressive elements of the Fifty
Shades trilogy, progressing through the events
of Fifty Shades of Grey and into
the second book, Fifty Shades Darker.
The first XXX adaptation is not a parody, and it does
not comment on, criticize, or ridicule the originals.
It is a rip-off, plain and simple."
So basically, the XXX version is a valid and successful
adaptation of the book. More so, perhaps, than any
sanitised version could be. Perhaps instead of suing,
Universal should just give Smash and director Powers
a few hundred grand and set them to work on unfettered
NC-17 versions of the novels. Given the popularity
of the books, it could be just what the rating needs
to become established as a legitimate option for filmmakers!
Meanwhile, other adult producers will be watching
the outcome of this case very carefully I