The widow and son of the man who wrote the 1983 article that inspired the original “Top Gun” are suing Paramount Pictures over its sequel, “Top Gun: Maverick”.
In a complaint filed Monday in federal court in California, Shosh Yone and Yuval Yone claimed that the rights to Ehud Yone’s story were returned to them on January 24, 2020. The lawsuit argues that Paramount, which produced and distributed the sequel, did not acquire the re-acquisition. Those rights before releasing the film in May.
A spokesperson for Paramount Pictures said in a statement that the claims are “without merit, and we will vigorously defend ourselves.”
The lawsuit states that Paramount has been on notice since 2018 that Yonez intends to recover copyright under a provision that lets artists do so after 35 years. According to the suit, Yonez sent a cease-and-desist letter in early May, to which Paramount responded that the film was sufficiently completed by January 24, 2020, and was not derived from Yone’s article. Yonais countered that the film is a derivative of the 1983 article and that “Top Gun: Maverick” didn’t wrap until May 2021, a year after the rights ended.
Yone’s original article about the Navy Fighter Weapons School training program and the two pilots in the curriculum, hotshot “Yogi” and his friend “Possum”, were published in the May 1983 issue of California Magazine. Shortly thereafter, Paramount Pictures acquired the exclusive movie rights. “Top Gun” was released in 1986 and became the No. 1 film of the year.
The sequel has been in development for years and was originally scheduled for a July 2019 release, but was delayed several times- first due to the usual reasons and then due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Top Gun: Maverick” finally hits theaters on May 27, has spent two weeks at the box office and has already raked in more than $557 million in worldwide ticket sales.