James Cameron has been accused of ripping off all kinds of sources to create Avatar, from Fern Gully to Pocahontas to Dune. But only one person had the stones to actually sue Cameron for it-- and, as you might expect, he has been defeated by the mighty Cameron machine.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, U.S. District Court Judge Margaret Morrow has ruled against Gerald Morawski, who filed a lawsuit claiming that he proposed the idea for Avatar to Cameron back in 1991, and that he had an agreement for credit and compensation if the idea ever became a film. Morawski wasn't the only person who sued Cameron and claimed his idea was ripped off, and in response to these suits, Cameron filed a 45-page sworn declaration about his history with Avatar, beginning with his dream of becoming a scientist as a kid in the 1960s, going to the script he co-wrote for the sci-film Xenogenesis, and even citing the Paul Reiser character in Aliens as a direct forebear of Giovanni Ribisi's Avatar role. You can actually read the full declaration at The Hollywood Reporter, where Cameron confirms that he met Morawski in connection to a different project, even lending him $5,000, but doesn't remember being pitched any story ideas.
This is a pretty commonplace example of people trying to get in on the profits of something successful, and given Avatar's very simple and mythic story structure it's not surprising that plenty of people have seen their own ideas contained within it. But I love that Morawski got under Cameron's skin so much that he filed a 45-page response-- and also that, at last, Morawski has been shut up in court.
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Staff Writer at CinemaBlend