Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. on Tuesday stepped up its fight to keep exclusive rights to the lucrative James Bond movie franchise by asking a court to order rival Sony Corp. to halt development of its own Bond film.
The motion filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles was MGM's latest move to prevent Sony from cashing in on Hollywood's most successful movie franchise. Since MGM launched the series in 1962 with "Dr. No," its 18 Bond movies have earned more than $2.5 billion in box-office receipts worldwide.
MGM sued Sony in November when Sony said it planned to develop a Bond film. MGM is now asking for a preliminary injunction because it believes Sony actually has begun making the movie.
"'We don't want them in the process of making movies while the suit is in litigation," said MGM attorney David Johnson.
Responding to the lawsuit, Lou Meisinger, a lawyer for Sony, said, "MGM's motion is impressive only for its bulk and not for its substance. There are no facts or circumstances that did not exist when the lawsuit was originally filed that would justify a court intervening to issue an emergency injunction."
MGM is currently developing the 19th Bond installment.
The dispute hinges on the rights controlled by Kevin McClory, who produced the Bond films "Thunderball" in 1965 and "Never Say Never Again" in 1983. McClory said he had a relationship with the late Bond novelist Ian Fleming that predated MGM's deal.
MGM contends in its motion filed Tuesday that McClory's rights to Fleming's material and characters were restricted by the 1963 settlement of a breach-of-copyright lawsuit McClory filed against Fleming over "Thunderball."
In its lawsuit, MGM also accused John Calley, a former MGM executive who is now president of Sony Pictures, of taking MGM trade secrets when he left the company. The suit alleges that Sony is using the information in its development of its Bond film.