Lawsuits are nothing new in Hollywood, especially when it comes to suing over ideas. It's far from uncommon to see suits filed by people who claim to have written a screenplay or had an idea that was substantially similar to movies that end up being made. However, most of the time, those movies being sued are massive blockbuster hits. Now, however, we're seeing a lawsuit against a likely already forgotten recent Melissa McCarthy comedy called Life of the Party. The movie certainly was no smash hit, but now the movie is being sued for $10 million.
The lawsuit comes from a woman named Eva Kowalski, a writer of short subjects, who, according to details of the suit from Deadline, says that she met with representatives of the Gersh Agency in 2014 where she pitched her script, at the time titled College Mom. She claims she was told that the idea had "significant commercial likelihood of success."
Kowalski is now claiming that her idea was taken by the agency, and turned into the film Life of the Party, the film's writing credit is given to Melissa McCarthy, who would also star, and Ben Falcone, who would also direct. They are both also named in the suit along with Warner Bros, and producer Brett Ratner and his RatPac label, though Deadline points out neither Ratner nor RatPac were producers of the film, so their inclusion in the suit is a mystery.
Life of the Party was released in 2018 and sees Melissa McCarthy as a mom who makes the decision to go back to school after finding herself alone following a divorce. It made about $65 million at the global box office off a budget reported at $30 million, and while Hollywood accounting is always something of a black box, that means the movie was something of a modest success. If nothing else it wasn't a big money loser, though a lawsuit doesn't help matters, in terms of energy and money.
As stated, we have certainly seen lawsuits like these before. Movies like The Shape of Water and Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl have seen lawsuits over allegedly using concepts or entire ideas without credit. These suits rarely work out for those filing the suit, however. Even when similarities between two ideas are obvious, it's frequently less clear that the one idea inspired the other, which is a necessity for success in the case.
Having said that, this suit specifically states there was a "secret agreement" between the parties in the suit to steal this idea, and if there's any evidence of this, it could certainly change the equation.