Ian McKellen Drama ‘Mr. Holmes’ Copyright Infringement Suit Settled

Arthur Conan Doyle estate attorney tells TheWrap it’s reached a settlement in principle with filmmakers

Attorneys for the estate of Sherlock Holmes author Arthur Conan Doyle have reached a settlement with Roadside Attractions, Penguin Random House and director Bill Condon over the Ian McKellen film “Mr. Holmes.”

The July release, about the twilight years of the famous detective, was hit with a copyright infringement suit from the Doyle estate in late May. The film’s source material, Mitch Cullin’s novel “A Slight Trick of the Mind,” borrowed too heavily from the existing pool of Holmes stories, the suit claimed.

“We’ve reached a settlement in principle,” Holmes estate attorney Benjamin Allison told TheWrap Friday. Terms of the settlement are still unknown, but Cullin’s novel will cite the use of copyrighted material moving forward.

“We admire both the book and the movie — and we have told the defendants that,” Allison said in the original filing. “But much of the setting, plot and especially the character and emotional makeup of Sherlock Holmes as an older man come straight from copyrighted stories. Those stories are among the most original and creative works of modern fiction, and they should not be ripped off just because older Conan Doyle stories are in the public domain.”

The fiilm, which starred McKellen and Laura Linney, has grossed close to $17 million since its domestic release on July 17.