A gamemaker is suing Netflix for allegedly claiming a confidentiality breach in a contract to develop a title based on Zach Snyder’s upcoming Rebel Moon as pretext to steal ideas and concepts created for the space opera franchise.
Netflix was accused in a lawsuit filed in California federal court on Thursday of terminating “without any legitimate basis” a licensing agreement with Evil Genius Games in a “bad faith attempt” to hijack intellectual property by asserting ownership over parts of the project to use in the movie and “potentially release [the game] themselves to avoid sharing the profits.”
Evil Genius Games, which develops tabletop role-playing games based on movie franchises, reached a licensing deal with Netflix in March to create a Rebel Moon title. Under the agreement, the streamer would get a share of profits on top of a $25,000 payment.
Netflix, however, couldn’t provide essential background information vital to development of the project since it was missing from the script, according to the complaint.
“Alien races and planets were not named or described, royal characters and their lineages were missing, and there was no clear storyline for how the Rebel Moon universe originated,” states the lawsuit. “Netflix did not even deliver Plaintiff any official Rebel Moon trademarks or logos.”
The gamemaker subsequently supplied “all the missing pieces and created a cohesive backstory” for the franchise in a “World Bible,” which it handed over to Netflix. Where the script introduced a character as “Alien 1,” for example, the company created its name, age and origin, among other things.
Snyder and multiple Netflix executives were “so enamored with the 228-page World Bible” that they indicated “substantial elements of it” would be incorporated into the franchise, including the film. The game was finished in May.
But Netflix proceeded to do a “complete about face,” accusing Evil Genius Games of breaching confidentiality provisions by releasing movie content at a trade show and disclosing unapproved artwork for the game to retailers.
“Netflix then used this as pretext to terminate the Agreement, assert ownership over Plaintiff’s intellectual property, halt the project, and prevent the game from being released (or potentially release it themselves to avoid sharing the profits with Plaintiff),” writes John Fowler, a lawyer for the gamemaker. “Netflix’s accusations are baseless.”
The deal was terminated in May. A month later, Netflix sent a letter claiming exclusive ownership of the world bible. It offered Evil Genius Games $50,000 to “basically go away, forgive Netflix for its pretextual hijacking of the project, and hand over the game to them.”
Evil Genius Games argues the disclosure was agreed upon. A month before the licensing deal was signed, the two sides discussed presenting the game at the trade show, according to the complaint. It also takes issue with Netflix employees disseminating the artwork in question to retailers, as is customary prior to the release of games.
The lawsuit states: “Netflix cannot credibly claim that Plaintiff materially breached the Agreement’s confidentiality provisions since, among other things: (a) Mr. Snyder had already publicized the existence of the Rebel Moon TTRPG in his March 19, 2023 podcast appearance; (b) the very same artwork at issue had already been distributed by Netflix employees at GAMA on April 24-27, 2023 to over 100 retailers; (c) the artwork was little more than a pitch material recycled for GAMA, and (d) various Rebel Moon word marks and logos were already widely available on the internet (Netflix even instructed Evil Genius to use these materials rather than delivering official Licensed Property to Evil Genius per Schedule A of the Agreement).”
The complaint claims breach of contract and unjust enrichment, among other claims. It seeks an order requiring Netflix, which didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment, to comply with the terms of the agreement.