G.I. Joe: Retaliation script spawns lawsuit

I’ll be honest, I read this story pretty early this morning, but just kind of discarded it, as it seemed a bit heavy-handed and not as serious as it was being made out to be, but I’ve seen a lot of folks talking about it, and I’ve been approached by a number of people, so I figure I should probably talk about it a bit.

News has hit today that screen writers David Elliot and Paul Lovett are suing Paramount over elements of their story being “stolen” and utilized in the sequel film G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  They had a hand in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, and laid claim that a treatment they wrote for the sequel had pieces taken from it for G.I. Joe: Retaliation without credit or money given for their services.

First word from this that I saw was from Deadline.com early this morning, and I still think the whole thing is a little ridiculous.  Reading the entire complaint, these guys are claiming that their ideas for Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow being told that Zartan killed the Hard Master was stolen for the G.I. Joe sequel (perhaps they can re-route some of their $23 million dollar claim towards Larry Hama for creating that story nearly 30 years ago…).  It’s somewhat of a touchy subject and in our legal society today, practically anyone can launch a lawsuit at anyone else, so there has to be some scrutiny.  In my mind, this one doesn’t pass the smell test, and I don’t anticipate it will amount to much.

Check out Deadline for the full story and you can read the full complaint right here.

11 thoughts on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation script spawns lawsuit

  1. This is BS… You are correct those writers stole the idea from Larry Hama… So any money they get from this should be given to Hama directly… Or it should be thrown out as a stupid lawsuit.

  2. There’s no way they can win this. They may have used that story element in their script, but the fact that it already existed, and thus ANYONE could do the same they did, there’s no basis for damages here.

  3. I am willing to bet the money they’re after isn’t even really becuase of this but they are more looking for a payout for other things, (ie money owed for ROC script ). Hollywood is weird place, people launchy crazy law suites all the time to give themselves extra bargining chips in other things. Kevin smith did a whole podcast on it that expalins it a whole lot better about his clerks troubles.

  4. Revisiting some of what I said on Twitter yesterday, it’s possible that Paramount took some elements of their pitch and instructed Reese and Wernick to incorporate that material into their script. If that’s the case, these guys are entitled to some compensation. Not a tenth of what they’re seeking, but maybe one or two percent.

    If that’s the case, though, and there’s any validity to their claim, this document is not going to help their case. It looks like they started off with something, a lawyer got his hands on it, and suddenly they were trying to claim credit for thirty-year-old ideas and plot points. They also get several things completely wrong about Retaliation. If I were on Paramount’s legal team, I’d be licking my chops at the opportunity to poke holes in this. I mean, they want credit for including “Zander,” whose name they can’t even spell, in the story, despite the fact that they wanted to use him in a completely different kind of role.
    It’s not cool if they got hosed, but this document and some of the absurd claims make it difficult to have as much sympathy as I otherwise would.

  5. Yeah, I have a feeling that there is a grain of truth in this, but the pleading was predictably drafted to be over-inclusive. You have to do that, since, at the end of the day, your settlement is going to be bargained down in any event.

    These types of suits don’t work very often, but they’re not exactly uncommon. And the fact that these guys have an association with Paramount implies that there is more substance than, say, the dozens of people who all claimed that they gave JKR the idea for Harry Potter and sued for residuals.

    But, hey, I’m just an insurance defence lawyer, not an entertainment lawyer (THANK GOD). So who knows.

  6. Two things stick out to me. 1) Every draft starts with something like “based on our previous conversations…” That usually means there were ideas being thrown around by the producer to the writing team. Maybe not a lot, but I’m sure di Bonaventura and Goldner gave them some framework to build off of…or not build off of. 2) The full proposals compared to the end result movie are really very far off from each other. Not even close. Big climatic scenes and characters aren’t included. At best, some of the overarching sub-plots are similar in vague themes that were entirely inspired and spelled out in the comic.

  7. Considering they wrote SE and SS origin as kids, the idea that they intended Zartan to frame SS is incredibly stupid. Then why did they make them kids? Morons.

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