June 20, 2011 1:39pm PT by Matthew Belloni
Warner Bros. Settles 'Hangover II' Tattoo Lawsuit (Exclusive)
Fans of The Hangover Part II can breathe easier: The tattoo on Ed Helms’ face is staying in the film.
Warner Bros. has settled the lawsuit brought by Missouri tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill over the mark on Helms’ face, which Whitmill claimed infringed a copyrighted tattoo he created for boxer Mike Tyson.
Terms of the settlment were not disclosed. When asked for comment, Whitmill attorney Geoff Gerber provided THR the following statement: “Warner Bros. and Mr. Whitmill have amicably resolved their dispute. No other information will be provided.”
Sources say the deal was hammered out during an all-day mediation in St. Louis on Friday that was attended by Whitmill and his lawyers, as well as the Warners legal team.
Whitmill, who created the original tattoo and registered the copyright, sued in April asking that a federal judge halt the release of the blockbuster comedy sequel because it prominently features the tattoo without permission. As we noted when the case was filed, copyrighted works are copyrighted works, no matter whether they are painted on canvases or walls or the bodies of former heavyweight champions.
But on May 24, just days before the film was scheduled to be released, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine D. Perry denied Whitmill’s request for a preliminary injunction. Hangover II has since become the highest-grossing R-rated comedy ever, pulling in around $500 million worldwide.
Yet the case continued, and Warners attorneys must have been concerned that Perry suggested she saw merit in the case, even referring to the studio's defenses as "silly." In subsequent court filings, Warners said that it planned to digitally alter the tattoo for the home video version of the film if the case didn’t settle quickly.
And now it has. A notice of dismissal is expected to be filed shortly, putting an end to one of the odder copyright cases in recent memory.