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James Franco sued over Bukowski film rights

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Apr 25, 2014 | 3:43pm EDT

James Franco is at the centre of a new legal spat over his plans to make a new movie about literary legend Charles Bukowski. Cyril Humphris, who claims he owns the film rights to the author's semi-autobiographical novel Ham on Rye, insists the 127 Hours star lacks the necessary permission to make the movie and he is suing Franco in a bid to halt production.

According to his lawsuit, which was filed on Thursday (24Apr14), Humphris maintains Franco had an agreement to develop Ham on Rye, but the rights expired in 2010, and his plans to make a film about the author infringe on the former agreement. In his suit, Humphris maintains Franco's current Bukowski film "borrows the Novel's themes of childhood loneliness; adolescent self-consciousness; the failures, hypocrisy, and cruelty of adults; and, in an unflinching depiction, the crude interest teenage boys take in sex."

He adds, "The Film incorporates entire scenes, including substantially their dialogue, from the Novel." Franco has previously stated his film is not an adaptation of the novel, but focuses on Bukowski's childhood. But Humphris is far from convinced.

His lawsuit reads: "By producing, marketing, displaying, and/or distributing the Film, Mr. Franco... and those involved... have infringed on Mr. Humphris' exclusive motion-picture rights to the Novel."

The plaintiff is seeking an injunction and monetary damages, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

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