Archaeologist sues Lucasfilm for (kinda) stealing that crystal skull

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Jan 14, 2013, 2:52 PM EST

A lot of us have a beef with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, though most of us probably wouldn't bother suing George Lucas and company over it. But a real-life archaeologist is going after the flick, not because it was a letdown, but because the creators allegedly owe money for using the crystal skull as a plot device.

Dr. Jaime Awe, director of the Institute of Archeology of Belize, has filed suit against Lucasfilm, its new owner the Walt Disney Company, and Indiana Jones distributor Paramount Pictures, claiming that all three companies owe a share of the profits from Kingdom of the Crystal Skull to the nation of Belize, because that's where the titular skull came from.

According to Awe, the original crystal skull was taken from Belize by the treasure-hunting Mitchell-Hedges family nearly 90 years ago, and has since been used for profits that the home nation hasn't had a share in. Awe claims the three companies owe a share of the "illegal profits" they earned from a "likeness" of the skull to Belize, and also demands the return of the original skull to its rightful home.

"Lucasfilm never sought, nor was given permission to utilize the Mitchell-Hedges Skull or its likeness in the Film," Awe's lawsuit claims. "To date, Belize has not participated in any of the profits derived from the sale of the Film or the rights thereto."

But there are a couple of problems with Awe's claim. For one thing, in the movie the crystal skull originates in Peru, not Belize. And for another, the Mitchell-Hedges Skull was quite possibly a hoax itself. The Mitchell-Hedges family member who found it (young Anna Mitchell-Hedges) never did quite get her story straight, so it's very possible Belize was never the "original" skull's home.

Even if it's a complete fabrication, the lawsuit is rather entertaining, particularly because it's rather conveniently timed to coincide with Disney's acquisition of Lucasfilm. Sure, the movie came out more than four years ago, but why quibble over little details like that?

(Via Huffington Post)