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MGM sues to stop confusing Raging Bull pseudo-sequel

A few weeks ago we mentioned that a film called Raging Bull II had entered production. The independent film features William Forsythe, Joe Mantegna and Tom Sizemore, and is both a prequel and a sequel to the original Robert DeNiro classic. It seeks to tell the tale of what boxer Jake LaMotta experienced both prior to and following the events of the 1980 Martin Scorsese classic, but now that story may never be told as MGM has opted to take the filmmakers behind this flick to court.

According to JoBlo, MGM believes Raging Bull II has been created specifically to profit off the success and notoriety of its predecessor. Its producers, MGM claims, are “publicly associating the Sequel Picture” with the original, and this film is “plainly intended to create confusion in the marketplace and to trade off the value” of Raging Bull. If allowed into theaters, Raging Bull II would “irreparably tarnish the value of [Raging Bull] and MGM’s rights therein,” the firm’s suit states.

In addition to Raging Bull II producers Sunset Pictures and 982 Media, MGM has named 91-year-old Jake LaMotta himself in the suit due to the former boxer’s support of the pseudo-sequel. It’s not clear what exactly MGM hopes to gain by going after the film’s subject as well as its creators, but it certainly gives the impression that MGM is not screwing around here: The Raging Bull trademark is very valuable to the studio, and heaven help anyone who attempts to monkey with it.

What the suit fails to mention however is whether Raging Bull II’s infringements extend beyond its blatant title. It does seem suspect that the independent production would give their film a title so similar to its predecessor if it wasn’t attempting to cash in on that movie’s notoriety, but what if Raging Bull II were given a different title? Would MGM then relent? JoBlo suggests “The Jake LaMotta Story,” which would both strike a chord with fans of the original film, hoping to see more of its main character, and clearly differentiate this movie from MGM’s film. 

Then again, it’s also entirely possible that MGM just wants to kill this thing outright, either as a cold-blooded business move or a show of force intended to quell future efforts to capitalize on anything even remotely related to MGM’s many brands. Either way, given the relative size of the production companies involved in this suit, and the presumably massive army of lawyers MGM has on retainer, it seems unlikely that Raging Bull II will ever see theaters in its current form.