August 22, 2011 11:21am PT by Eriq Gardner
Why the 'Christmas Story' Child Actor Sued Warner Bros. Over Figurines
Those who have seen A Christmas Story a gajillion times on TBS will recognize the character of Scut Farkus as the kid who threw a snowball at Ralphie and got pummeled with Ralphie's fists.
News that the actor, Zack Ward, who played Farkus, is suing Warner Bros. for misappropriating his likeness in a figurine had us scrambling to find those prized objects in question (as well as the complaint). How exactly did Ward, who was 12 years old when he appeared in the 1983 film, manage to one-up his fellow actors by purportedly retaining the right to his image in the film's merchandise?
Well, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in California:
- "On or about January 10, 1983, the Plaintiff entered into a standard ACTRA agreement with Christmas Tree Films, Inc. to play the character Scut Farkus in the Movie."
- "The ACTRA Agreement contained a rider which was silent as to the rights to use the Plaintiff's likeness for purposes of producing consumer merchandise related to the Movie."
- "However, the agreements that Christmas Tree Films entered into with every other actor/actress who played a major character in the Movie contained a merchandising rider that allowed Christmas Tree Films to use the actor or actresses' likeness for the purpose of producing consumer merchandise."
- Because of the difference in the Plaintiff's ACTRA Agreement rider, the Plaintiff is the only major character who retained the rights to license the likeness"
And so Ward is suing Warner Bros., which entered into product license agreement with the manufacturer of the "Scut Farkus Figurine," for unspecified damages. The actor also demands that all Scut Farkus Figurines be destroyed.
"It's a generic face on the figurine, and not the actor's likeness, and has been that way since 2006," says a Warner spokesperson in reacting to the lawsuit.
We think we managed to track one of those figurines (pictured below) on eBay. Current bid? $17.95. Seems like a good deal. Could be a rare collector's item soon.