‘Sometimes I just assume too much,’ I confessed over my morning cup of java as I read The Hollywood Reporter article on streaming behemoth Netflix and the producers of worldwide phenomenon Tiger King being sued over apparent unauthorized use of a couple of clips from the 1995 Jim Carrey sequel Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls in their recent docuseries. My assumption as I ogled and consumed the up close look at carnival barker and big cat exploiter Joe Exotic was that, this being a Netflix production, everything was beyond above board, with proper permissions from big to small secured for television airing. Apparently I was quite naïve as Morgan Creek Productions – the studio behind both Ace Venture movies – insists that all footage from their 1995 follow-up was ran without their permission. So, what exactly is going on here?
According to Morgan Creek, the Tiger King docuseries used “without permission or license” two short clips from the Ace Ventura sequel, both featuring star Jim Carrey interacting with a monkey and an elephant. Though brief in total run-time (the two clips combined clock in at a mere five seconds), this does feel like an oversight of pretty big proportions for such an otherwise quality – gonzo though it may be – production.
“Leaving no room for doubt as to the source, a dubbed-over voice identifies one such movie as Ace Ventura, at the precise tome when the infringing clips appear on screen,” the lawsuit maintains. “Plaintiff is informed and believes, and thereupon alleges, that Ace Ventura is the only film used in Tiger King where more than one clip appears.”
Morgan Creek went on to claim that the episode in question featuring those two clips of their film was viewed by “an audience of literally millions of viewers – many of them more than once, multiplying the harm to MCP – all while knowing or having reason to know of the use of the infringing clips was without permission, content or license.”
So there you have it, Netflix: Ball is in your court. Though far from being a lawyer (though I once argued compellingly to a group of strangers that Coppola’s The Godfather III was a misunderstood classic), it does feel like this is a slam-dunk for Morgan Creek. We’ll have to wait to see if I’m quite off base on that, but it is worth noting that Morgan Creek claims to have attempted to bring a quiet resolution to the whole matter prior to filing a lawsuit, to no avail. Ah, Hollywood…
Keep those peeper’s peeled to Vents for this unfolding Hollywood legal skirmish, True Believers!