Many people speculated that MacGruber, an upcoming film based on a series of 60-second spoofs on Saturday Night Live, would be a terrible idea. Then we saw the first two trailers for the film and realized it may actually turn out to be pretty funny. Now that the rest of the world is in agreement, there seems to be trouble ahead for the filmmakers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the creator of the original MacGyver, Lee Zlotoff, had a deal with New Line back in March of 2009 to produce a film based on his 1985 series. The idea sat on a shelf for other projects like Friday The 13th and Ghosts of Girlfriends Past could come to fruition. Months later, Relativity Media went forward with their MacGruber production, which was basically a script mocking Zlotoff’s original premise.
Zlotoff was not happy about this, and began drafting cease-and-desist letters to Relativity. From THR:
“We feel they’re infringing our rights,” Zlotoff lawyer Paul Mayersohn told us Tuesday. As the film’s April 23 release date approaches, Mayersohn says he’s meeting with litigators to determine a course of action, which might include filing a copyright and/or trademark lawsuit and attempting to get an injunction against the film’s release.
This could prove to be problematic for Zlotoff’s plan to bring his TV franchise to the big screen. If Universal and Relativity’s MacGruber, a satire film that spoofs the original MacGyver premise, hits theaters months before New Line and Zlotoff’s film begins production, it could hurt the initial revenue and potential value of the film.
At this point, there hasn’t been much movement from either camp, but the worst case scenario would be that Universal would budge and MacGruber would get pushed back, if not thrown on the shelf indefinitely. We’re all hoping that doesn’t happen, and we’ll be sure to bring more details to you as they come up.