(AP) — A film company wants a federal court to declare it can make a movie based on the character of “Zorro” despite objections by Sony Pictures Entertainment, the movie studio behind the 1998 film “The Mask of Zorro.”
Sobini Films and subsidiary Maroda Inc. sued Sony Pictures, Tri-Star Entertainment (which co-produced “The Mask of Zorro”) and Zorro Productions on Aug. 2 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles seeking declaratory relief.
In the complaint, Sobini claims that in 2000 it acquired the rights to the 1919 Johnston McCulley book “The Curse of Capistrano,” in which the swashbuckling masked avenger made his debut, and is entitled to produce “Zorro 2110,” a futuristic spin on “Zorro.”
The lawsuit comes in response to a cease-and-desist letter from Sony Pictures, asserting it owns the exclusive license to develop and distribute all films and television programs based on “Zorro,” said attorney Bruce Isaacs, who is representing Sobini.
The Sony letter has made it difficult for the Sobini production to proceed, Isaacs said.
“Once Sony sent us that letter, it’s kind of like the kiss of death,” Isaacs said. “What we’re asking the court to declare is that Sony-TriStar does not have exclusive rights to ‘Zorro,’ whether it be via the copyright road or via the trademark road.”
The complaint also asks the judge to find that Zorro’s look — the black mask, cape, hat and sword — cannot be protected under trademark or copyrights.
A Sony Pictures spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.