Film Studios Duel Over Rights to Global Pandemic Film ‘Alone’

Hollywood Innovations Group LLC (HIG) has taken on Netflix Inc. and several South Korean production studios in a copyright suit over a movie the defendants purportedly translated from Korean to other languages and sold without owning the rights to. When HIG’s film ‘Alone’ debuted, it was completely overshadowed by Netflix’s previously released and nearly identical English-dubbed ‘Alive,’ Monday’s Los Angeles, California filing says.

The case centers on a script copyrighted in June 2019 written by Matt Naylor that “details a young man’s struggle for survival and the resulting mayhem as he is forced to self-isolate in his urban apartment during the outbreak of a global viral pandemic.” According to the complaint, Naylor sold the rights to make a single Korean-language version of the film to Zip Cinema and Perspective Pictures (the Korean Producers). HIG ended up obtaining assignment of the rights to make the English-language film and all derivative non-Korean language versions based on Naylor’s script.

In 2019, HIG began production with hopes of an official release in October 2020 and of striking a deal with Netflix.  “HIG had every reason to be optimistic about Alone’s prospects, as the film featured a star-studded cast and significant, positive support from potential distributors, all owing largely to the fortuitous timing of the film’s subject matter given the COVID pandemic and the related lockdowns that had struck the world in early 2020,” the complaint says.

Following the Korean-language film, ‘#Saraitda,’ theatrical success in that country in June 2020, the Korean Producers contacted HIG through Naylor to discuss the potential acquisition of sequel and other derivative rights. However, the Korean Producers’ plans were surreptitious, the complaint says. Instead of inquiring about a rights’ acquisition, they asked film timeline questions, intending to rush to dub ‘#Saraitda’ for distribution on Netflix. 

In September 2020 ‘#Alive’ debuted dubbed in English and other languages and was a roaring success. According to the complaint, the release of ‘#Alive’ predictably devastated the market for ‘Alone,’ which debuted a month later.

HIG now seeks to hold Netflix accountable, stating that the company and its partners robbed it of the worth of its rights to Naylor’s script. The complaint states a single complaint for federal copyright infringement and seeks a permanent injunction barring the defendants from all dubbing and subtitling of ‘#Alive’ and distribution of such translations.

It also seeks actual and statutory damages and an award of HIG’s fees and costs. HIG is represented by One LLP and Bay Advocacy PLLC.