Evil Genius Games Sues Netflix Over 'Rebel Moon' Roleplaying Game

TTRPG cancelled over alleged confidentiality breaches results in lawsuit.

Evil Genius Games--creators of the d20 Modern-inspired Everyday Heroes RPG, with its licensed settings such as The Crow, KingL Skull Island, Pacific Rim, Highlander, and more--was all set to release a tabletop RPG based on Zack Snyder's upcoming movie Rebel Moon until the contract was cancelled by the streaming company over alleged confidentiality breaches. Evil Genius is suing Netflix for breach of contract.

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Rebel Moon, which comes out later this year, is a space opera movie featuring a peaceful moon defending itself against tyrannical invaders.

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The contract was cancelled back in May 2023, at which point Evil Genius had nearly completed the TTRPG design, with the Player's Guide and GM's Guide fully written and a 'world bible' for the setting created; the latter is an internal developer tool, which other franchises use also.

The termination is based on alleged confidentiality breaches. In addition, Netflix has asserted ownership of the world bible, which constitutes significant work undertaken by Evil Genius. The streaming company did offer to pay for that work--to the tune of $50,000--but Evil Genius did not accept that offer.

Snyder has also indicated that the contents of the world bible would be incorporated into future cinematic and video game properties.

Gizmodo spoke to Evil Genius and has more information. Additionally, Evil Genius has put up a web page about the situation.

I've since received an email from Evil Genius, and they have made a press release:

LOS ANGELES – (Sept. 28, 2023) – Evil Genius Games today sued Netflix for wrongfully terminating Evil Genius’ contract to create a tabletop role-playing game (TTRPG) for the widely anticipated Rebel Moon film franchise by Zack Snyder. The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California.

Snyder, the acclaimed director of action and science fiction films, revealed in a podcast in March 2023 that a TTRPG based on Rebel Moon was in the works, lauding the work of Evil Genius’ team of creators.

Evil Genius began working with Netflix in early 2023 and signed an official agreement with Netflix on March 22, 2023, to develop the game and related materials, promising a delivery date to coincide with the film’s release on December 22, 2023. Evil Genius paid Netflix for a license, with an agreement to share profits.

Evil Genius stopped other projects to focus on the Rebel Moon TTRPG, the lawsuit states. By May, Evil Genius had produced a 228-page World Bible (which vastly expanded on the universe envisioned by Snyder), a 430-page Player’s Guide and a 337-page Game Master’s Guide. The initial script for Rebel Moon was “missing background information vital to the story as a whole and to the world,” the lawsuit states, with Evil Genius supplying “all the missing pieces” along with “a cohesive backstory for the entire Rebel Moon franchise.” According to the lawsuit, “the speed at which the project came to fruition astounded Netflix executives, and [Evil Genius] exceeded everyone’s expectations.”

Later that month, on May 25, Netflix suddenly terminated the agreement with Evil Genius, claiming the company had violated confidentiality provisions in its contract by sharing artwork at an industry trade show one month earlier. In the lawsuit, Evil Genius said the termination came as a surprise because it had sent the artwork to Netflix in advance of the event, the Game Manufacturers Association Exposition (GAMA), and Netflix had approved its use. Documents containing the artwork were handed out to retailers at GAMA by Evil Genius’ staff and two Netflix employees.

Two weeks later, Netflix notified Evil Genius that all of its work on the project “belongs solely and exclusively to Netflix,’’ the lawsuit states, with Netflix refusing to honor its agreement with Evil Genius to allow the release of the game and compensate the company for its work.

“It became clear’’ the lawsuit alleges, “that Netflix was simply using the alleged breach and termination to hijack [Evil Genius’] intellectual property and prevent [Evil Genius] from releasing the game.’’

David Scott, Evil Genius’ CEO said the decision to file a lawsuit was not made lightly.

“Our aim is to ensure our team is recognized for their fantastic work, and that we can release this game for millions of TTRPG enthusiasts to enjoy,’’ Scott said. “It’s disheartening to see Netflix backpedal on content that was jointly showcased and had received their prior consent. We urge our supporters to contact Netflix and Zack Snyder to push for the release of this game.’’

Evil Genius is encouraging supporters to visit Evil Genius Games, where they can sign a petition asking Netflix to acknowledge the creators of the Rebel Moon World Bible and allow Evil Genius to release the tabletop role-playing game.

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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
And probably the worst bit was most of the original marketing didn't explain how much John Carter DNA is everything else in comic books and sci-fi. Without that context, most critics were like "seen it, nothing new."
I'm not sure what that marketing would look like.

"Hey, you know all the things you like? They were inspired by this thing which will be like those things, but it was like that first."

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That said, Zack Snyder largely appeals to a narrow-but-passionate set of the larger audience. It's hardly a shock that others might be reacting to Rebel Moon as they do to his other stuff.

There'll be people who are upvoting this film on Rotten Tomatoes because it's Zach Snyder making it, there'll be people downvoting it on Rotten Tomatoes because it's Zach Snyder making it. Very few people have neutral view of Zach Snyder.

Speaking for myself, I'm very unlikely to even bother seeing this because I've loathed every other Zach Snyder film I've seen (Watchmen had some good bits, but they were the bits taken straight from the comic. But Evil Genius would have known full well that was exactly what they were getting into when they signed up to work on a Zach Snyder tie-in)

Wolfram stout

I'm not sure what that marketing would look like.

"Hey, you know all the things you like? They were inspired by this thing which will be like those things, but it was like that first."

Sure, I am no marketing whiz but something like:

Before Indiana Jones, before Luke Skywalker, before Conan there was John Carter: Warlord of Mars!

Or as a side tangent. Just get the name Mars in the title

Should they have expected the studio to terminate their agreement and nick their setting materials?
Nah, sorry for the confusion. I was referring to the likely polarised reception of the film given the guy who’s making it. The corporate scumbaggery leading up to the lawsuit would have been a nightmare surprise for anyone.

At this moment, it's got a 24% tomatometer, 82% audience score. (Is reverse review bombing a thing?)
It absolutely is a thing, yes - ballot-stuffing is the usual term. It's rarely successful in the long term because for whatever reason, the energy behind ballot stuffing tends to peter out faster (there's a sociology paper in there somewhere). Another potential factor is that people excited about a specific property, whether because of the director, actors, content, or whatever, tend to see it quickly, and immediately leave a positive review - or do so without seeing it, at the first possibility opportunity - i.e. when it gets released. Either way, you sometimes see the audience score go really implausibly high very quickly on bad movies by people like Snyder, but it usually begins to fall over time.

In this case for example, it's already down to from the 82% audience you reported to 72% and I'd expect it to fall further.
There'll be people who are upvoting this film on Rotten Tomatoes because it's Zach Snyder making it, there'll be people downvoting it on Rotten Tomatoes because it's Zach Snyder making it. Very few people have neutral view of Zach Snyder.
I'm weirdly neutral on Snyder despite him making 300, which is like, racist, horrifyingly ableist, homophobic on multiple levels (from insane erasure to "no homo" stuff to queering the bad guys), wildly ahistorical even by the standards of fictionalized Thermopylae accounts and so on, largely because I don't think he's smart enough to understand that it is those things, and they're not really themes he's returned to, unlike some directors (I think they're there because they're all in the Frank Miller comic it was adapted from). I don't like any of his superhero movies either. However, I kind of don't hate his zombie movies, particularly as, and this is a little perverse, I admit, they tend to really annoy zombie "purists" (and yes, there is such a thing, and yes, they're the worst - I was one for like a year in the very early '00s to be honest). Like I quite liked how wacked out the plot was on Army of the Dead, and I appreciated the dedication to the bit of digitally replacing that creep with the very fun Tig Notaro, without even really cutting down the scenes that character was in, even if it was rather obvious at times.

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
Army of the Dead, while not truly a good movie, was definitely lots of fun, for the Vegas setting, the insane stuff like zombie tigers and badass Tig Notaro, who was a delight to behold. The worldbuilding stuff was nonsense, but then, so is The Walking Dead's.

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