It’s just six seconds of music, but it plays near the start of every episode of Fox’s DC Comics series Lucifer.
And now the people behind both the show and the music – Warner Bros. Entertainment and Oscar-nominated composer Marco Beltrami are heading to court over those six seconds, accused of copyright infringement among other things.
In a story first published by The Hollywood Reporter, the brothers behind the musical group Heavy Young Heathens. say they’re the ones who created the theme song for Lucifer.
And not only can’t they seem to get on-screen credit for the work, but Warner Bros. won’t pay them either.
Robert Marderosian and Aron Marderosian filed a complaint in a California federal court Thursday demanding a judge force Lucifer to drop the theme song, to pay actual damages exceeding $250,000 (or statutory damages up to $150,000 per infringing work), and to levy punitive damages against Beltrami and his Pianella Music company.
The Marderosian brothers have developed music for a number of television series and movies over the years including The Simpsons, CSI and Teen Wolf among others. It also is responsible for trailer music used by films like The Magnificent Seven, Deadpool and The Amazing Spider-Man.
So when Beltrami was struggling to develop a theme song for Lucifer ahead of its Fox premiere, he sought out the Marderosians to lend him a hand in late 2015, according to the complaint.
“When Beltrami approached the Mardos, he was desperate. Beltrami was not able to capture the essence of what Warner Bros. and NS Pictures were looking for in the main title theme for the series, and each of the musical works previously composed and submitted by Beltrami to Warner Bros. and NS Pictures, had been rejected.”
The Mardos, as the brothers are commonly called, said they would help out as long as they were credited as co-writers, and ownership of the song would be split three ways among the Marderosian brothers, as well as Beltrami’s son, Tristan Beltrami. They also wanted a credit in each episode that explained the main Lucifer title theme was “performed by Heavy Young Heathens.”
The Marderosians quickly developed a song called “Pay the Price,” or “Being Evil Has a Price.” It was from that song, the Marderosians said, the six-second title card theme was extracted from.
The Marderosians said they never got their screen credit, nor have they been compensated in any way for the music’s usage. They do admit there was never a written agreement with Beltrami and Warner Bros., but believe the verbal promises are binding.
Warner Bros. declined to comment, according to The Hollywood Reporter, while Beltrami has yet to comment.
Beltrami has been nominated for two Oscars in his career, first in 2008 for 3:10 to Yuma, and later in 2010 for the Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker. He also earned an Emmy nomination in 1999 for David and Lisa.
His credits also include Scream 4 in 2011, World War Z in 2013, last year’s Ben-Hur, and the upcoming X-Men film Logan.
Civil complaints are written solely by the aggrieved party, and typically none of its claims have been vetted by a court. The defense will have a chance to respond to those claims in the next few weeks.
Lucifer, which stars Tom Ellis, Lauren German and Kevin Alejandro, airs Mondays on Fox, but won’t return until May 1.
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