ByMark Newton, writer at
Movie Pilot Associate Editor. Email: [email protected]
Mark Newton

Things have not been going smoothly for Spike Lee's Oldboy. The first reviews aren't exactly encouraging and already we've heard that the studio cut the movie against Spike Lee's wishes. Well, it's someone else turn to take a shot at the English language remake — Juan Lois Garcia.

Who is Juan Lois Garcia? Well, he's a digital artist who has commissioned to develop some posters for 's Oldboy. Unfortunately, it seems Garcia didn't have a very fun (or profitable) experience with the ad agency handling Oldboy's marketing. Indeed, he's accusing the agency of stealing his work and breaching his copyright.

Garcia first developed a few speculative concept comps for Olboy, which appeared to go down extremely well with both the agency and Lee. However, when he was offered a paltry sum in return for two months' work, he refused the offer and withdrew his posters. However, as the release of Oldboy drew nearer, Garcia found his work reappearing on various official Oldboy and Spike Lee social media profiles. In response he wrote an open letter to the director himself and called for his assistance. He said:

Dealing with the agency was one the worst experiences of my life. It affected all aspects of my life from my marriage to my work and my health. I was taken advantage of, lead on, lied to, manipulated, and harassed for over two months while I put all I had into designing the comps.

He added:

The agency told me, 'Congratulations, Spike loved a couple of the posters. Yours is going to be the key art,' and I was thrilled. But when it came time to negotiate the licensing buyout fee the agency made an insultingly low offer. But they said that the important thing wasn't the money it was the exposure and potential for more work. After thinking about it long and hard I had to decline. I tried to negotiate but they refused. I make the same amount of money in a single day as a photo assistant as what they offered and I had worked on these almost exclusively for two months. Plus there was still more work to be done so I had to refuse.

The agency was furious. They told me that I didn't want to mess with Spike Lee, that I would never work again, that I was a despicable human, that they wish they never met me, and that they were going to sue my ass to oblivion.

Garcia then went on to provide comparison pictures, showing both his original work and the later released official poster. They certainly shared a similar style, but it was the actual use of Garcia's previously submitted comps which persuaded the flabbergasted designer to contact Lee personally. Head over to here to read Garcia's open letter in full.

Intellectual property rights seem to be cropping up quite a lot recently. Early this year a photographer sued Buzzfeed for $3.5 million after a copyright protected image was posted on the site. Is seems it's becoming increasingly hard to reconcile intellectual property rights with the modern information age.

What do you think? What should Spike Lee's response be? Let us know below.


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