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The Weinstein Company Sued Over Children Of The Corn Spinoff Rights

Producer Donald Borchers has filed a federal copyright lawsuit alleging that he is the owner of the spinoff rights to Children of the Corn, Variety reports. The suit gets down to the nitty-gritty of the differences between remakes, reboots, and sequels, with Borchers seeking declaratory judgement that he owns rights to work based on Stephen King's 1977 horror story—and not Disney, Miramax, or the Weinstein Company. 

Borchers previously produced the original 1984 flick that centered around a cult of murderous children. Twenty-five years later, he penned and helmed a television adaptation of Children of the Corn. In 1994, Miramax (the company founded by Bob and Harvey Weinstein) acquired rights to the franchise, and proceeded to produce a number of sequels, beginning with Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering in 1996, under its Dimension Films label. Several of the pics never saw a theatrical release, instead going straight to video, and an eighth installment was released just six years ago. 

Complications arise when considering that Borcher has allegedly been seeking to reboot the franchise since 2004, or around that time. 

The lawsuit indicates that Borchers claims he initially approached Miramax about remaking the original Children of the Corn movie. Borchers states was told that Miramax had lost interest in the horror series due to its apparent poor performance in theatrical runs and the fact that the home video market wasn't thriving as it once had. He also alleges that Miramax was keen on the idea of a Children of the Corn remake, but soon found out that it had failed to land the remake rights to the original film. The lawsuit details that Miramax, unbeknownst to Borchers, acquired the rights in question from Park Avenue Entertainment. 

Borchers whipped up a spec script for an alleged film "spinoff" of Children of the Corn in 2016, and attempted to license the rights from Miramax's Dimension Films, which is now a subsidiary of the Weinstein Company. Dimension has not confirmed whether it held such rights, but Borchers alleges that he later confirmed Park Avenue had actually secured them. The plot thickens with Borchers' statement that he is now in possession of the spinoff rights that were once held by Park Avenue. Borchers says that he notified Dimension Films of this. 

Dimension Films has contested Borchers' claim, according to the lawsuit. Borchers is now suing the Weinstein Company, Dimension Films, the Walt Disney Company, and Miramax to confirm that he actually holds the rights. 

"A dispute has arisen between and among Borchers and Defendants regarding the ownership of the right to produce remakes, sequels and spin-offs of the Original Film," states the August 23 complaint, which is loaded with references to Creed, King Kong, The Matrix, Suicide Squad, King Kong, and Transformers as a means to define what remakes, reboots, sequels, and spinoffs are. 

It adds: "Borchers has asked Defendants to admit that he is the owner of these rights to the Original Film, but they have either refused to do so or have disputed his claims, affirmatively asserting 'adverse legal interests... Judicial intervention is necessary to resolve this dispute so that Borchers' rights are protected... Therefore, Borchers seeks a judicial determination to resolve the issue of the ownership of the spin-off rights to the Original Picture... Absent this Court's declaration of Borchers' rights, and a resolution of legal uncertainties, he cannot submit any production, including a spinoff, for Copyright registration without concern for engaging in a potentially unlawful use or facing criminal liability. And, if Borchers is able to produce, because the Defendants have denied, or refused to acknowledge, his rights, Borchers faces a potential infringement action by the Defendants."

Understandably, the Weinstein Company didn't respond to a request for comment on the news.