Mike Tyson tattoo could keep The Hangover Part II from cinemas

What is the cost of a nice visual gag? In the case of the Mike Tyson-evoking facial tattoo on Ed Helms in The Hangover Part II, it could mean millions of dollars, or perhaps even a halt of the film’s cinematic release.

S. Victor Whitmill, who gave Mike Tyson the iconic and distinctive tattoo around his left eye, has sued Warner Bros for including the tattoo on Helms’ character (and prominently in the film’s promotional material) without attempting to obtain his permission.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Whitmill believes that he holds the copyright of the original tattoo and that The Hangover Part II is infringing on his copyright.

He has requested an injunction to stop the release of the film until this situation has been rectified.

First of all, it’s very unlikely that Warner Bros would let a juggernaut like The Hangover Part II be delayed at all, so don’t start changing your opening night plans just yet. However, THR suggest Whitmill might actually have a case, so perhaps WB will pony over some dough and settle before the situation escalates.

Can a facial tattoo be copyrighted? Absolutely. Could WB argue that its appearance in the film is a parody (a direct reference to Tyson, who appeared in the first flick), and therefore a fair use? Definitely.

More news as it develops. The Hangover Part II is (tentatively) set to hit cinemas May 26, 2011.

Discuss: Does Whitmill have a leg to stand on in your opinion?

4 Responses to “Mike Tyson tattoo could keep The Hangover Part II from cinemas”

  1. There is certainly grounds for this to hold up, and i find myself hoping Warner loses just to keep these feeble attempts at comedy out of cinema for as long as possible. *grumble*

  2. Yes, the tatooer has grounds for a case. The cynic in me thinks this is an awesome and original PR spin for a movie not that many people would otherwise care about?

  3. Really? Tatts have been copied for.ever. Copyright on a tatt? Wouldn’t that be held by the owner anyway, so if anyone was going to sue, it would be Mikey?

  4. If I were the artist I would aim for some recognition in the terms of money also! I wonder how this was settled.

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