Shortly after the release of Superman Returns, George Lucas, founder of Lucasfilm Ltd., sued Warner Bros. for using one of his Star Wars sound effects during the film without any permission. "I find this sort of plagiarism to be unacceptable in Hollywood," Lucas said. "I think everyone who worked on this movie should go straight to jail."
The sound effect, which took up ¾ of a second of Screen (Hearing-Intended) Time, was of a man screaming during the airplane sequence in Returns. According to Lucas, the scream was that of the most hated Star Wars creature in existence: Jar Jar Binks.
As ridiculous as it seems, there were several factors that supported Lucas' claim. Nearly two hundred Japanese viewers experienced horrible seizures, a highly unusual achievement for a film considering it was only audio, making known as the "Worst Entertainment-Related Incident Since the Pokemon Seizure Episode." In America, several people claimed to have had terrible flashbacks of seeing Jar Jar Binks on a big screen seven years ago in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Brian Singer, the director of Returns, told us he had not even heard the final sound mix until the premiere. He was also one of the first people to vomit once the sound effect filled the room. He immediately went out to hunt down the supervising sound editor, Craig Berkey, but he was nowhere to be found; rumor is that Berkey flew to the Middle East the night before the premiere.
All blame fell back on Singer, who should've checked the film one last time. "If I'd known about this earlier I swear I would have done something," he said. "The last thing we wanted to do was ruin a good saga by reminding people of a bad one."
Despite being innocent, Warner Bros. gave George Lucas a total of $20 million.
Ever since the success of Star Wars, Lucasfilm Ltd. has been very protective of its films. From ripping Mad Magazine for writing a parody of the first films to giving Sony permission to use the word "R2" on their Playstation controllers, the independent film company has become known as the "Church of Scientology of Hollywood."
Still, Warner Bros. happily paid Lucas the money, hopefully so he would never have let them hear Jar Jar Binks again.
"I don't know about you," said Singer, "but this just may be the sign of the upcoming Apocalypse. After this, all we need is for Snakes on a Plane to be released and the world is over."