While imitation may turn out to be the highest form of flattery, but plagiarism is not. Hence the big studios and directors in Hollywood had to go to courts because of their film rip-offs. Whether the rip-off accusation proves true or not is something that we need to know more about.
But the point is it is a dicey situation where you need to find the thin line that demarcates between inspiration and blatant plagiarism. The point is there have been many such movies, albeit popular. And they had to face a legal battle for being almost similar to shockingly similar!
Cabin In The Woods
Cabin in the Woods is one of the recent movies that blends horror and comedy with great elan and has some genuinely scary moments. The film’s success is mainly because of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard’s amazing script.
However, not everyone was happy with the script. Especially Peter Gallagher, who has a similar storyline in his novel The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines. He took Whedon to court for a $10 million lawsuit and punitive damages.
The judge did not have a similar viewpoint to Peter as he believed that there were some similarities, the location and teenagers dying. He further stated that Cabin in the Woods is similar to many other horror movies that include a cabin and people dying by the number. So, Whedon won in the end.
Pirates Of The Caribbean
Few may have missed the high on adventure film Pirates of the Caribbean Curse of the Black Pearl, starring Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom. Disney’s swashbuckling film brings in the moolah and the audience in huge numbers. The films are based on a theme park at Disneyland and Disneyworld. However, an author begged to differ, and he said that the movie borrowed elements from his novel.
In 2005 Royce Matthew sued Disney for stealing the idea of pirates transforming themselves into skeletons and dancing away in a moonlight-swathed night. However, the case did not find firm ground as Disney could produce evidence of sketches of the idea separately. And they had to drop the case.
However, Matthew chose to mess with Disney again in 2013. He drew the judge’s attention to the artwork that was plagiarism according to him. While Collin Campbell was the creator of the artwork there may be some truth in Matthew’s claims. However, Disney still won the case.
Blumhouse has made its name by producing quality work on a low budget. However, they did not want to be a popular production house with copy infringement issues. In 2013 Douglas Jordan Benel sued Blumhouse for copying the script of Settler’s Day.
Benel’s point held some steam as both films were primarily trying to have a common theme: a family trying to survive one day when all crime is legal. Benel comes up with further proof, where he came up with many articles where the screenwriter James De Manaco wrote about what inspired him to write The Purge or the sources that inspired him. Well, the issue is yet to reach a resolution. But Benel’s claim has some weight.
Spike Jonze’s Her is a sparkling film blending science fiction and a romantic liaison, no wonder it became very popular in 2013. It was one of the perfect stories of the relationship and a reflection of love and life in the 21st century.
However, the thing is, long before Joaquin Phoenix thought of the idea, Sachin Gadhard and Jonothan Sender had a similar screenplay tucked away somewhere. Their story (Belv) had a smartphone coming to life and became the be-all and end-all of the protagonist.
What was different between the two films is that in one film (Belv), the protagonist has a friend calling the shots, whereas Scarlet Johansson plays the romantic interest in Her. While one was a drama, the other was a comedy. The case did not find any steam in the court of law, saying the stories were different and the central theme had a different shade.
So, as we find out here, not all films that share a fleeting common theme fall under the category of ‘plagiarism’.It is left to the good sense of the presiding judge to find out whether the film is a rip-off or not! However, the constant tussle between imitation and plagiarism will go on.