MGM Sues LaMotta and Production Company to Stop Sequel to Raging Bull
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Inc. (MGM) filed a complaint in California on Tuesday, July 3 aimed at stopping the production on a sequel to the 1980 film Raging Bull. MGM claims that boxing icon Jake LaMotta was contractually obligated to offer MGM the movie rights to the book that is the basis of the new film. The suit is against LaMotta as well as producing company RB Production II LLC (RB II). MGM states that “upon information and belief, RBII is nearing completion of principal photography of a low-budget B-movie based upon the sequel book.”
MGM has demanded that RB II cease and desist from the production of Raging Bull II, but RB II has refused to comply. The sequel is directed by Martin Guigui and stars William Forsythe.
The first Raging Bull was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Robert DeNiro. The film was critically acclaimed, earning DeNiro an Academy Award for his portrayal of former heavyweight champion boxer LaMotta. In 1986, LaMotta co-authored a memoir entitled Raging Bull II, which is the source of the contested sequel.
According to MGM, a 1976 agreement between LaMotta, co-writer Peter Savage, and Chartoff-Winkley Productions Inc. gave Chartoff-Winkler the right of first refusal on his memoir and any other owner-written sequel. MGM is the successor to all of Chartoff-Winkler’s rights under that deal.
The complaint asks the court to rescind the deal granting the rights to LaMotta’s memoir to RBII. MGM also asks the court to issue injunctive relief barring LaMotta and RB II from producing, distributing, marketing, or otherwise exploiting the sequel. MGM argues that the sequel is currently being publicly associated with the original film in a way “plainly calculated to cause confusion in the marketplace,” that will “irreparably tarnish the value of the original.”
LaMotta’s fiancée has stated that this complaint stems from “a big misunderstanding.” Representatives from MGM and RBII have declined to comment.