ArtsBeat (The New York Times)
August 15, 2011
By Kate Taylor
In “Bring It On,” the 2000 movie starring Kirsten Dunst, two cheerleading squads faced off amid accusations of stolen routines. Now that animosity has carried over to a new musical based on the movie.
In a complaint filed last week, the Writers Guild of America accused the producers of the movie of exploiting the screenwriter's rights by producing a new musical based on the story. The complaint claims that the guild's contract with producers says that two years after a movie's general release the right to adapt it into a stage play reverts to the screenwriter. According to The Hollywood Reporter, which first reported the claim, the screenwriter, Jessica Bendinger, had been trying to develop her own stage adaptation of “Bring It On” when she learned that the film's producer, Beacon Communications, was doing so as well. Beacon's version, which is directed and choreographed by Andy Blankenbuehler (“In the Heights”), with a book by Jeff Whitty (“Avenue Q”), and music and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda (“In the Heights”), Tom Kitt (“Next To Normal”), and Amanda Green (“High Fidelity”), had a run earlier this year in Atlanta and is set to begin a 10-city national tour in Los Angeles on Oct. 30.
A review in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution called the musical one “of the most exciting Atlanta world premieres in many years,” citing its “fiercely funny writing” and “catchy hip-hop tunes.” The Guild's complaint, which is subject to arbitration, calls for Beacon to immediately cease and desist exploiting the dramatic rights until it acquires them from Ms. Bendinger. It also seeks damages. According to Ms. Bendinger's lawyer, Neville Johnson of Johnson & Johnson, Beacon will have to respond to the complaint, and then it and the guild will jointly choose an arbitrator.
The original “Bring It On” took in more than $90 million at the worldwide box office. There have been four direct-to-video sequels, but Ms. Bendinger has not shared in the revenue of those, Mr. Johnson said. Beacon's lawyer, Alan Brunswick of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, told The Hollywood Reporter: “The claim is without merit. We will vigorously defend it.”