‘Road House’ Screenwriter Sues MGM Over AI use and copyright as Gyllenhaal and McGregor get ready to promote

The screenwriter of the beloved classic movie Road House is suing MGM, Amazon, and United Artists for copyright infringement over the Jake Gyllenhaal adaptation.

Renowned novelist R. Lance Hill (also known as David Lee Henry) is the creative force behind the iconic 1989 movie ‘Road House.’ He has initiated legal action against MGM, Amazon, and United Artists for alleged copyright infringement related to the recent remake of the movie featuring Jake Gyllenhaal.

In 1986, Hill wrote the screenplay for ‘Road House’. It is a cult classic starring Patrick Swayze and produced by United Artists in 1989. The film revolves around Dalton, a complex character armed with a karate black belt and a philosophy Ph.D. who is on a mission to transform a rural Missouri roadside bar.

According to The Daily Beast, Hill’s legal filing reveals that in 2021, he formally notified United Artists that the copyright grant would end on November 11, 2023. This would lead to the restoration of rights to his screenplay. But instead of adhering to the notice, MGM, Amazon, and United Artists proceeded with the production of the remake and allegedly disregarded Hill’s ownership claim.

The new adaptation was allegedly finalized in January of the same year, notably after the specified November deadline.

The complaint submitted by Hill draws attention to various striking similarities between his original screenplay and the remake starring Gyllenhaal. Specific details, such as Dalton’s body being “riddled with injuries from his past” and “sixth sense for impending violence” are outlined in a long list submitted as evidence. Hill contends that these resemblances substantiate his claim of ownership.

Furthermore, Hill’s lawsuit includes a noteworthy accusation. It suggests that the defendants resorted to utilizing AI technology to generate actors’ voices during the SAG-AFTRA strike last year. It was an unconventional tactic aimed at meeting the November 11 cutoff before the copyright rights reverted to Hill. Despite this extreme measure, the attempt proved unsuccessful.

In response to the legal action, a spokesperson for Amazon MGM Studios dismissed Hill’s claims.

The spokesperson said: “The lawsuit filed by R. Lance Hill regarding Road House today is completely without merit and numerous allegations are categorically false. The film does not use any AI in place of actors’ voices. We look forward to defending ourselves against these claims.”

Notably, the studio also refutes accusations that either AI or non-SAG AFTRA actors contributed to the completion of the film.