An artist is claiming that Disney and Lucasfilm plagiarized his work for Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s posters. The upcoming Star Wars film publicly suffered from quite a few behind the scenes issues during production, which eventually led to Solo‘s original directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, being booted from the project and Oscar-winning director Ron Howard signing onboard as their replacements shortly thereafter.
Since Solo wrapped production in October 2017, it was presumed that Disney would ultimately delay the film from its scheduled May 2018 release date to December 2018 (in keeping with Lucasfilm’s release schedule for Star Wars films under Disney’s leadership; Solo is the only Star Wars movie that’s not releasing in December). But that didn’t happen. Instead, Lucasfilm decided to keep the film’s summer release date. They finally started marketing the movie in February 2018, releasing the first teaser trailer during Super Bowl 52. Then, the same day that the official Solo trailer debuted during Good Morning America (the day after the Super Bowl), Lucasfilm released a handful of Solo character posters that significantly differed from the posters for past Star Wars films. However, it appears that those posters may not have been original creations after all.
On Facebook, French artist Hachim Bahous claims that Disney copied the artwork that he made for Sony Music France – for albums such as The Legacy of Funk and The Legacy of Jazz – for Solo: A Star Wars Story‘s posters. Judging by what’s available, it looks like Solo’s posters share the same concept, font, and color scheme as Bahous’ album covers. From what’s available online, it’s clear that Bahous’ artwork, which he says was commissioned in 2015, has been used for the aforementioned albums since at least 2016 (the albums can be found on websites such as Amazon and Oldies). Take a look:
In the above photo’s caption, Bahous also says that he’s flattered his work is being recognized, but he wishes that Disney would’ve asked him (or Sony) first. Of course, it’s possible that Disney did request permission from Sony and the artist simply doesn’t know about their agreement. Here’s an excerpt from his post translated from French: “I am flattered that the quality of my work is recognized, but it is still pure and simple forgery, I have not been asked for my permission, I wish to be credited and paid for this work I have done for Sony!”
Are the lines between inspiration and blatant copying starting to get blurred in this heightened digital age? Recently, Microsoft came under fire for an advertisement that promoted PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds on Xbox One. The ad appeared to copy a concept that was posted on Reddit two months prior. Upon being notified about the issue, Microsoft’s Major Nelson confirmed that the PUBG ad had been pulled from all their official channels and was actively investigating the matter. Clearly, this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened in the entertainment industry. But now, there are several questions that Disney may need to answer as a result of this controversy. Who made the Solo posters? Did they copy the French artist’s designs? And will the posters be pulled from distribution?
Since the original art was commissioned by Sony Music France, it’s unclear if the artist has any legal grounds to sue The Walt Disney Company for copyright infringement (if that’s something that the artist wants to do), though there are still moral reasons for Disney/Lucasfilm to pull their posters and print new ones regardless of what happens, in addition to possibly issuing an apology to the artist. According to IMP Awards, the Solo posters were designed by BLT Communications, LLC, so it’s possible that Disney/Lucasfilm weren’t aware of the similarities. Plus, the Mouse House could attempt to justify the use of the posters as homages to the original artist, but that could be another legal matter entirely. For now, Disney has yet to pull the Solo: A Star Wars Story posters from circulation, but they have informed us that they are looking into the matter.
KEY RELEASE DATES
Solo: A Star Wars Story release date: May 25, 2018
Star Wars 9 / Star Wars: Episode IX release date: Dec 20, 2019