Warner Bros. reveals plans to alter 'Hangover' tattoo for video


Image Credit: Melinda Sue Gordon

Warner Bros. filed court papers on Monday indicating they intend to digitally alter the tattoo on Ed Helms’ character’s face when The Hangover Part II is released on home video, according to court documents. Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill, who gave Mike Tyson the Maori-style tattoo that the film references, sued the company for copyright infringement. In their most recent filing to prevent Whitmill’s request for an expedited trial, lawyers for Warner Bros. said, “If the parties are unable to resolve their dispute, Warner Bros. does not intend to make any use of the allegedly infringing tattoo after the film ends its run in the theaters because Warner Bros. will digitally alter the film to substitute a different tattoo on Ed Helms’s face. As a result, there is no reason for the highly accelerated trial Plaintiff has asked this Court to hold on Plaintiff’s request for a permanent injunction.”

A mediation hearing is slated for June 16, and a court date is set for Feb. 21, 2012.

Read more:
Warner Bros. releases ‘Hangover Part II,’ tattoo case continues

Comments (72 total) Add your comment
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  • Mr. Holloway

    Additionally, the monkey will be smoking a walkie-talkie instead.

    • Thad


      • vickil03

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    • Matt

      while(1) printf(“+1\n”);

      • stickittotheman

        I own the rights to the heart-with-an-arrow-through-it tattoo. So, ka-ching for me!!!

    • e4ia

      Comment of the day. Well done!

      • Jen

        OTF!!! That was a genius comment!!!! well played!

  • Stacie

    I feel most for the graphics team that has to do this.

    • hannibal

      more money for them…

      • Patrick

        They won’t have to. This is all about extending the court process long enough that the tattoo artists can’t afford it and settles.

  • Rush

    Lame. Tyson’s tatoo isn’t even original, it’s a public domain Maori image. Warners should have held their ground.

    • RCB

      They are, that’s why they’re fighting this in court. They just didn’t want to risk getting an injunction.

  • nn

    They should erase the whole movie.

    • Shannon

      Haha! Yeah, I was thinkIng the same thing.

      • tom

        but a comicbook movie would have taken it’s place

  • VLH

    Then They have no reason 2 go 2 the tattoo shop…how r they going 2 get most of the info on what they did?

    • Mr. Holloway

      Even though the (misleading) headline says the tattoo will be “erased”, the article actually says that they’re going to digitally substitute a different tattoo in.

  • Michael Hiscoe

    If they get rid of the tattoo, it ruins the joke because it’s a reference to meeting Tyson in the first film. It also ruins the joke later in the film when Tyson tells him he better get rid of the tattoo. It’s parody and clearly fair use.

    • Jose

      That’s what I keep thinking!
      The joke will be ruined with a different tattoo

    • Lil Jo

      They don’t have to change the WHOLE tattoo, all they have to do is change a curve here or there. Just enough to say what copyright this is a different design. You can’t copyright tribal tattoo around the eye.

      As long as it looks close enough then Mike can still say what he said

    • BG 17

      But by the time Tyson got that tattoo, he was already a parody of his former self, so maybe you can’t parody a parody…

  • JPX

    Tattoo artist S. Victor Whitmill is such a jerk. He should be thrilled that his ugly tattoo is being featured in a major movie.

    • stickittotheman

      He should be sued by the Maori people for ripping off their culture!

    • Hugh Beaumont

      I’m happy. Whitmill shouldn’t be immortalized on film. Let him disappear into obscurity with Tyson. No tears for the producers either for extending Tyson’s career. Robert Crumb, THAT was an artist. Tony Danza, THAT was a boxer who could act. Put them together with Tony’s KEEP ON TRUCKIN’ tattoo…immortal.

  • Wills

    Wouldn’t that ruin a lot of the movie?

    • mrx16

      I’m pretty sure the movie ruined the movie.

  • Joe

    Corporate GREED strikes again. If you or I used a lady gaga song on our business website, or made a commercial using any artist’s song even if it was altered a little. We could expect LEGAL action. If everyone else has to get permission why can’t multi-million dollar companies???

    • Minvike

      Ignorance of the law strikes again. If anyone (you or a big company) wants to use someone else’s copyrighted intellectual property in either of the two examples you give (a business website or commercial for a product), that person or company will be sued and will lose if they try to fight it. But ANYONE (you or a big company) can use anyone else’s intellectual property any way they want IF they are using it as parody. (There are a dozen or so other exceptions too, but parody is the one that matters here). So if you (or anyone else) wants to make a parody version of a Lady Gaga song (ala Weird Al), there is nothing Lady Gaga can do to prevent you from doing it and you will win any law suit she tries to bring against you. The same would apply to you as it would a multi-million dollar company. Here, the tattoo is a clear example of parody. WB did not need to get permission and neither would you.

      • Zed

        I don’t think the fair use defense of artistic parody in this case is as cut and dried as you may believe it to be. I don’t know whether the simple placement of a copyrighted tattoo onto a comedic character necessarily substantiates parody of the “image”, which is what is required. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. My guess is that it will be settled before any new interpretations of the law are made.

      • Minvike

        I hear you, Zed. And I agree with you. I probably shouldn’t have worded my response in “absolute” terms like I did because there are certainly arguments to be made that it technically isn’t parody. My post was more of a response to Joe’s post that implied a typical attitude of people today that the average person doesn’t have the same rights as big companies or rich people. The point of my post was that the outcome would be the same whether the defendant was some poor individual or some huge multi-million dollar corporation. But I agree with you that in this case, the tattoo artist COULD make a decent argument that its NOT parody and therefore outside of the fair use doctrine. And I definitely agree they’ll probably settle before it’s ever decided by a court.

  • get out

    i think people should not go to this tattoo idiot, people are always trying to get a quick buck, he should of used this opportunity as some free advertisement, but instead went on trying to get some quick cash for a stupid ugly tattoo.

    • Dan

      Should HAVE. Should HAVE. Not “should of.” This drives me nuts.

      • Lil Jo

        yeah what OF it irritates you =P

        their are so many grammatical errors on this sight every day, it’s just knot worth the time to correct any one

        i no for affect eye should have left the “are” out, cause most people would have but hey I had too ad it.

      • JimmyH

        I’m with Dan on this. Basic typos do not bother me, but grammitical errors like this are very annoying.

      • JimmyH


      • tinab

        Errors in people’s comments don’t bug me that much. What irritates me though, is grammatical and spelling errors in journalism. I’m not in any way using this article as an example, but if you are going to write a story as a professional, PLEASE make sure you get your facts right and your words right. I think it shows a lack of integrity to blatantly ignore both.

  • Barry

    Maybe they should alter the film.

  • Derek

    Why is this an issue , the tattoo in the film should be considered satire and therefor protected under the first amendment

    • Brandon

      It shouldn’t be an issue because Tyson had the tattoo in the first movie, therefore they should own the right, at least in part, to the image of the tattoo itself or technically, they would have to remove the tattoo from the first movie as well

  • Grumpster

    They should digitally replace the tatoo with something nasty said about the tatoo artist. That’d teach him to complain.

  • Grumpster

    OH…and I smell a South Park episode coming with subsituted tatoos.

  • JFWilder

    I am coining a new phrase here: “Substi-toos” is now part of the English language as of this post. Don’t you dare copy it or I’ll sue your pants off.

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