So say you wrote a movie that's oddly similar to one that just won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. All of that hard work that you have done goes into something, and it ends up being made into someone else's film. What do you do? Some would just chalk it up as a coincidence, and punch up their draft to distance it from the other film. Others - as is the case with a pair of screenwriters discovered by TMZ - would team up to sue Spike Jonze for "stealing their work.
In this particular case, you have screenwriters Sachin Gadh and Jonathan Sender with their script Belv in one corner, while in the other corner there is Spike Jonze and his script for Her. Gadh and Sender argued in court was that there were so many similarities between the two pictures (a talking machine, emotional storytelling, and pocket friendly storage, being the key examples mentioned) that it clearly had to be a case of theft. Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of Mr. Jonze, citing that the Belv script was more of a comedic script, and Her was a drama
While the status of Her being a comedy or a drama is one that could be argued, apparently the films dramatic tendencies were enough to help the movie shake any comparisons to its doppelganger. The whole case becomes clearer when you read the further details provided in an earlier report TMZ provided when the case was first filed. Her was a film that consciously made its artificially intelligent hardware self-aware, whereas Belv has a case of accidental sentience.
It's easy to laugh something like this off, but at the same time it's not like this is anythingnew in Hollywood. What makes it news it that it's always interesting to see what sort of case defendants are able present in such a situation, especially when a lot of scripts have been stolen and/or leaked online through various means and methods of consumption. One could say that the reporting of such cases will only increase in direct proportion to the rate of incident. The more scripts that are leaked, the more stories you'll see about scripts being leaked. The more stories you see about scripts being leaked, the more likely it is that someone could read the story and feel emboldened to think that maybe their script was leaked.
For all we know, Mr. Gadh and Mr. Sender legitimately believe their script was stolen, and are not trying to pull the wool over our eyes. What should be taken away from this is the lesson that maybe we should be a little more careful with what we leak to the Internet, and WAY more careful with printed copies of scripts. To be fair to Gadh and Sender, though, it would have had an easier time going after the writers of SNL for their parody of Her that sounds much closer to the tone they were aiming for in the first place.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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