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When Brad Bird's Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol came out in 2011 it wound up becoming the biggest international hit of Tom Cruise's career - but if allegations from a disgruntled screenwriter are to be believed then it may have also been his biggest mistake. Entertainment Tonight has obtained court papers that were filed back in December claiming that Cruise, Paramount Pictures and 10 other defendants stole the idea for the plot of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol, and the plaintiff wants $1 billion in compensation.
According to ET's report, screenwriter Timothy Patrick McLanahan claims he first started shopping around a script he wrote called Head On back in 1998 and that some time between then and the making of Ghost Protocol the production team stole his idea and violated his copyright. McLanahan says that one of the people he showed the script to was Rick Nicita, Tom Cruise's agent at Creative Artist Agency, and he believes this was how they wound up stealing the story. Said the plaintiff,
"I immediately recognized that the scripts for this movie had been illegally written and produced from Head On's 1998 copyright."
There has yet to be an official statement from the defendants, as all 12 parties involved want to meet together and "evaluate the allegations before filing an official response."
There are some very important details missing from Entertainment Tonight's report, sadly - namely any details about Head On that can be compared to Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. It's also unclear why the plaintiff waited more than two years after the Mission: Impossible film's theatrical release to file his lawsuit. Isn't this something he should have done before opening weekend? What's the significance of making the claims now?
Lawsuits like this are all too common in Hollywood. Following the release of Avatar, James Cameron was hit by a dozen of claims that said the filmmaker stole ideas that had been brought to him years earlier. A good number of the suits have been dismissed, but there are still others that are being worked through the court system even today. If what Cameron's experiences have been like are any indication, then this case against Cruise, Paramount and the other parties could end up being around for a while.
Regardless of whether or not the original concept behind the film was stolen, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is still one seriously kick-ass blockbuster, and I couldn't be more excited for the sequel coming in 2015. In the meantime, relive some of the magic of the last movie with the trailer below.