Ed Helms' face might look very different when "The Hangover: Part II" comes to DVD and Blu-ray in December.
Warner Bros. movie studio has told a Missouri judge that if it can't resolve the ongoing legal tussle over the tattoo on display in the blockbuster comedy by the time it comes out on home video, the studio will digitally alter the controversial mark on Helms' face.
Warner Bros. was sued by a Missouri tattoo artist who claims he owns a copyright on the unique tattoo first worn by former boxer Mike Tyson and now by Helms in "The Hangover: Part II".
The tattoo's owner, S. Victor Whitmill, attempted to stop the film's release in May but was denied a preliminary injunction. The movie has since grossed $350 million worldwide and counting.
The case has continued, however, and U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry on Thursday set a jury trial date for Feb. 21, 2012. At issue is whether to award Whitmill a permanent injunction against the film's distribution and/or damages for copyright infringement.
Whitmill and his lawyers had sought a trial in August. But Warners opposed that schedule, saying in court documents that such a quick resolution wasn't necessary because the studio plans to whitewash the offending mark from the movie after its theatrical run. The move would eliminate any further alleged damages to Whitmill from his copyrighted tattoo appearing in the film.
"If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, Warner Bros. does not intend to make any use of the allegedly infringing tattoo after the film ends its run in theaters because Warner Bros. will digitally alter the film to substitute a different tattoo on Ed Helms's face," the documents said.
Lawyers for the studio added that the home video release is currently scheduled for early December 2011.
Warner Bros. got its wish, with Judge Perry declining to set a trial date in August. But a February trial, after the planned DVD release, would require the studio to spend heavily to remove the tattoo from all the offending Helms scenes.
He has the tattoo in pretty much every scene after the first 20 minutes of the film.
Warner Bros. declined to comment on Thursday.