‘Bad Boys’ Settlement: Columbia Pictures & George Gallo End Copyright Battle Over Will Smith Franchise

Four years after Bad Boys original author George Gallo first went to court over copyright to the lucrative Will Smith and Martin Lawrence franchise, the scribe and Columbia Pictures have settled their differences.

“Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii), and in light of a settlement between the parties, Plaintiff Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. and Defendants George Gallo, Sweet Revenge Productions, Inc., and Robert “Bob” Israel hereby stipulate to the dismissal with prejudice of this action. The parties shall bear their own attorney’s fees and costs,” said the three-page filing today in federal court in LA (read it here).

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While details of the deal are confidential, both sides are happy with the outcome, I’m told. They better be, By the definition of the “with prejudice” designation, this matter cannot be refiled.

Author of the 1985  “Bulletproof Hearts” story that was the basis for the first Bad Boys pic in 1995, Gallo has long argued that his efforts were not work for hire. In a 2020 complaint, the Midnight Run author declared that any rights Columbia had to make derivative works of his story ended on June 27, 2022. Gallo had filed a pair of notices on the matter in June 2020, after news broke of a fourth movie being in the works.

Columbia fired back last summer with a breach-of-contract suit filed in the Central District of California, Western Division. In an accompanying statement, the studio said: “The contract regarding the 1995 film explicitly states, complete with full personal representations and warranties from Mr. Gallo, that the story – which was transformed by many other writers into what became the original film — was written as a work-for-hire.”

They added: “By law, such rights cannot be terminated. Entirely confident in its rights, the studio has sought declaratory relief confirming them and potential damages from interference with those rights and breach of contract.”

Neither Gallo’s lawyer Marc Toberoff nor Columbia responded Friday to request for comment on the settlement. If and when they do respond, this post will be updated.

The Bad Boys copyright dispute may have gone cold, but the Will Beall and Chris Bremner penned Bad Boys: Ride Or Die continues to heat things up at the box office. Released on June 7, the fourth Bad Boys flick has snagged over $127 million worldwide so far to prove the first blockbuster of the summer.

Not that that has anything to do with why this matter was settled.

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