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Why ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ sequel is at the center of a new lawsuit

The family of the man who wrote a magazine article that inspired the original film wants "Top Gun: Maverick" out of theaters.
/ Source: TODAY

“Top Gun: Maverick” may be one of summer’s biggest blockbusters, but not everyone loves the high-flying sequel.

The hit movie, which has already grossed $291 million, is at the center of a copyright infringement lawsuit that claims Paramount didn't have the right to release it.

Tom Cruise plays Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the "Top Gun" movies.
Tom Cruise plays Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the "Top Gun" movies.Paramount Pictures

The original “Top Gun” was inspired by a 1983 article in California magazine written by the Ehud Yanay. Before his death, he told The Wall Street Journal that producer Don Simpson called him from a dentist’s waiting room where he was reading the article and said that he was interested in turning the piece into a film.

“Top Gun” would become a smash upon its release in 1986, becoming one of Cruise’s signature films.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by NBC News, Yonay’s family says it reclaimed the copyright to the story in January 2020. The family also said they sent Paramount a “notice of termination” for the sequel, which they said the studio “deliberately ignored,” according to its lawsuit.

The suit has been filed by Yonay’s widow and son, both of whom live in Israel.

“On January 24, 2020, the copyright to the Story thus reverted to the Yonays under the Copyright Act, but Paramount deliberately ignored this, thumbing its nose at the statute,” the lawsuit said.

“This case arises out of Paramount’s conscious failure to re-acquire the requisite film and ancillary rights to the Yonays’ copyrighted Story prior to the completion and release of their derivative 2022 Sequel.”

The studio said in a statement that it did nothing wrong.

“These claims are without merit, and we will defend ourselves vigorously,” Paramount said in a statement.

Yonay’s family is seeking unspecified damages, as well as an injunction that would block Paramount from screening the film in theaters.