New Line Cinema, a film production label of Warner Bros., is facing a $900 million copyright lawsuit filed by Gerald Brittle, an author who claims that the 2013 horror franchise The Conjuring was based on his book about the real-life married couple Ed and Lorraine Warren. As a result of the lawsuit, allegations have been uncovered that Ed Warren initiated a relationship with a then-15-year-old girl, Judith Penney, who claims that she lived in the Warrens’ home for 40 years. In the article “War Over ‘The Conjuring’: The Disturbing Claims Behind a Billion-Dollar Franchise,” The Hollywood Reporter turned to Partner Lisa Callif to provide insight on the issue.
In the lawsuit, Brittle alleges that The Conjuring rips material from his book The Demonologist, which depicts the Warrens based on how they portrayed themselves to him. Though New Line maintains that the Conjuring films are protected from copyright claims because they are based on real life, Brittle argues that many of the details in The Demonologist turned out to have been untrue, a fact that the studio is aware of.
Lisa explained to The Hollywood Reporter that New Line likely did nothing wrong, legally speaking, by taking liberties with their depiction of the Warrens’ marriage. “So what if people believe they have a good relationship?” Lisa said. “If I were in this mix and the filmmakers knew all about this other woman, I don’t think I’d tell them that it was necessary to make any changes or to adjust the story.”