Battle: Los Angeles Studio Planning to Sue Directors of Skyline?

It’s nothing new in Hollywood to have multiple similarly-themed movies in production at the same time, but with this latest rash of alien invasion flicks, the competition between studios is getting ugly. Last week we posted a trailer for Skyline, a relatively low budget movie from the Strause Brothers (Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem) that seemed to come out of nowhere to build some decent buzz at this year’s Comic-Con. It appears that Sony was caught off guard as well, and they are threatening legal action against the movie because it could diminish the box office numbers for their own alien invasion movie Battle: Los Angeles, which is due to hit theatres some four months later.

Normally this would be kind of an empty threat, because as we all know, these kinds of copycat situations happen all the time in Hollywood. The one thing that makes this a bit different is the fact that the Strause Brothers also worked on the visual effects for Battle: Los Angeles as well. They own the visual effects house Hydraulx, and failed to inform Sony that they were working on an alien invasion movie of their own.

Sony is currently trying to discern whether or not their visual effects work on Battle: Los Angeles helped them to get Skyline made on such a tight budget, whether it be through inspiration, appropriation or access to equipment. It sounds like it may be difficult to prove, however, and a rep for the Strause Brothers has already called the claims “baseless”. Who knows what the end result will be, but if they’re just concerned about having direct competition, there are plenty of other alien invasion movies coming out next year as well. Skyline hits theatres on November 12th, 2010, while Battle: Los Angeles is scheduled for release on March 11th, 2011. Which one are you more interested in?

  • Slushie Man

    They both look pretty good to me. I’ll be seeing both on their opening days.

  • Brendan

    Here’s a solution: delay Skyline’s release until after Battle: Los Angeles. That way, B:LA gets to be the first one out, and won’t feel like Skyline is cannibalizing its sales. Anyway, since it’s the lower budget movie, it’ll probably have a better chance of doing well by riding the coattails of the big budget B:LA.

  • rob

    “and failed to inform Sony that they were working on an alien invasion movie of their own”

    so you have to tell your emplyers about all the projects you are working on that dont involve them?

    i cant see inspiration being grounds for a lawsuit however if they had used equipment then thats a different story

    if they are really so concerned then move the release date! Maybe give themselves some more time to re-shoot the film so its not shit

  • greg

    I agree with Brendan. They should move the release date. It was a conflict of interest and looks like bad business to me. I’m all about low budget independent films. But that doesn’t mean they are relieved of having good ethics. They’re only both alien invasion movies, they’re both invading LA. I can see why someone would be upset. And he’s right. Why not move the date and ride the big budget movies coattails.

    As for Rob’s comment, I don’t know what kind of business you’re in, but I have worked for several company’s that have asked me to sign non-compete waivers within so many months. Why should the movie industry be any different? It’s understandable. Someone is paying you to learn their business and work on their product. Then you turn around and put out a product to compete with theirs…. around the same time, even worse, BEFORE theirs… think about it. Bad business.

  • Aside from the brothers’ connections to both films, the resemblance between the 2 films, at least in concept, is very, very vague when compared to dueling releases of the past. “Volcano” and “Dante’s Peak” both centered around volcanic threats, which is pretty specific, and “Deep Impact” and “Armageddon” both centered around what to do when a planet-killing meteor is headed for Earth, which is EXTREMELY specific, but how many alien invasion flicks have we seen in our time, even within the same year or within months of one another? Sounds like a lot of bullshit to me. I mean, they aren’t even coming out in the same season, much less the same calendar year (11/10 vs. 3/11). It’s not a Thanksgiving/Christmas thing going on where they’d be bumping into each other. “Skyline” will have probably hit DVD already before “Battle: Los Angeles” sees the light of day.

    As far as “They’re destroying L.A. in both films!” goes, Roland Emmerich has probably done that about 114 times already anyway in alien/disaster movies (New York still outnumbers it by quite a bit), so if anybody should call “copycat”, it’s him. Speaking of which, “Roland Emmerich sues self for stealing intellectual property” is a long overdue Onion article waiting to happen.

    Also, bumping the release of “Skyline” to a time after “Battle: Los Angeles” would be a pretty terrible idea. I mean, we know better, that “Skyline” is slated to appear first, but a film like this that people are only now becoming even just slightly aware of, not to mention the lower budgeted of the 2 (meaning less marketing too, I would think), would more than likely come off as an imitator if released after the larger production, and a relatively low budget, coattail-riding one at that if the plug is pulled on it now. In the past, when similarly-themed disaster movies have been released within such short time of one another, the first one (which has typically been the cheaper of the pair) out of the gate has either performed better or at least been more well-received in the long run. In the case of “Dante’s Peak”, that’s not saying much, because “Volcano” tanked a couple of months later, and with “Deep Impact”, it did extremely well on it’s own and made $140 million (compared to the $200 million made by “Armageddon”) on a smaller budget than it’s competitor, with less marketable cast, and a better story than the Michael Bay explode-athon that came out 2 months later. The only stuff I really liked all that well in “Armageddon” was the ridiculous first half of the film, but once they start their mission, it all turns to forgettable shit and becomes one of the most predictable movies of all time, down to what Bruce Willis does in the end.

    If it turns out that there aren’t any legal matters worth pursuing, it’d be best if the 2 films just roll out as originally scheduled, as Sony is doing nothing but giving “Skyline” free publicity at this point, and it’s an issue that the general movie-going public isn’t going to care about, much less remember, once these films are released.

  • greg

    Best for who? Not both parties. Best for Skyline perhaps. Probably not best for Battle. I’m not quite sure what your argument is stating… that skyline, shouldn’t move their date because it would be worse for them? That’s kind of a “too bad” scenario in my book. Maybe those guys should of thought of that before they decided to compete with their employer. The whole thing is just weird to me. I’ll normally fight for smaller independents all day, but… I just don’t think this one was right. Plus… i mean, it’s still a 25 million dollar movie. Probably got a sweet deal on their visual effects considering the directors connection to the visual effects house. Add that to the budget and it’s not so tiny anymore. I don’t know.

    Who cares, I guess. What are the odds that either of these films would actually have to or willingly move their release dates? Anyone know?

  • If “Battle” moves dates, I guess it would maybe look like they were afraid of the little guy, at least to the general public, like “Oh man, they flinched, ‘Skyline’ must be a pretty big deal!”. By best, I meant that if it’s shown that there was no real wrongdoing in the matter of the makers of “Skyline” allegedly using Sony’s resources in making their own movie, everyone involved should just stay on course and act like the brouhaha didn’t happen. If Sony continued to raise a stink after the dust settled, they’d just look like bullies that didn’t get their way. On the “Skyline” end of things, they could probably still capitalize on “Battle” when it comes time to market the DVD, which would probably be rolling out about the time that “Battle” hits theaters.

    I guess that in the end, Rogue’s “Skyline” DOES stand to benefit more from the situation (again, if the charges don’t stick), so you’re probably right about that, and the best that Sony can probably do is keep their mouths shut. “Skyline” has more to gain, while “Battle” has more to lose.

  • THe Dude

    Merge them together: Skyline-Battle for Los Angeles

  • Battle for the Skyline of Los Angeles?

  • Tim

    I will definitely see Battle Los Angeles, it looks cool. Skyline looks poorly written and the trailer/vfx shots are underwhelming.

  • april

    Check out this list of visual effects that the Skyline directors Strause bros were a part of.