The Future Of Superman Movies In Trouble?

I’ve mentioned before that I’m one of the few people who actually really enjoyed “Superman Returns“. I thought it was a great character study, and even though I wanted more action and “cool stuff”, I still ended up having a great time with it. That being said, I’ve been quite anxious about the next Superman film. But that is looking more and more in question.

My friend Peter over at Slashfilm wrote an article outlining a legal issue that has arisen with the Superman character. The main idea is this:

a federal judge decided last week that Time Warner is no longer the sole proprietor of Superman. The court has ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel (of Siegel and Shuster) are entitled to a share of the US copyright to the character. The quick backstory goes like this: Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to Superman 70 years ago to Detective Comics for only $130. DC Comics has since given the creators each a $20,000-per-year annuity (later increased to $30,000). But then in 1997, Mrs. Siegel and her daughter served copyright termination notices which permits heirs to be able to recover rights to creations in certain situations (part of the 1976 Mickey Mouse copyright act). Compensation would be limited to any work created using the Superman character after their 1999 termination date.

But the bigger news is that this might put both the Bryan Singer-helmed Superman sequel The Man of Steel and the already troubled Justice League of America in jeopardy. With the relatives of Siegel now officially part-owners of the character, who knows what the future may look like. It’s also possible that in 2013 the entire Superman copyright will be yanked out of Warner Bros’ hands completely, as Joe Shuster’s estate takes the other half.

Studios with huge amounts of money have a way of making even serious potential problems like this go away and I won’t be surprised in the least if Warner Bros. does indeed make this issue disappear. Having said that, this is a serious potential problem in the near future for any Superman related projects.

The questions:

1) What does, if anything, this do to the next Bryan Singer Superman film? Will the new rights holders interfere? Will they demand too much money to the point that it makes the project unfeasible?

2) Will this kill or at least alter the new train wreck Justice League movie?

3) Will this have zero effect on anything at all?

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