Producing : What Evidence is Needed to see that a Concept was Stolen? by Karen "Kay" Ross

Karen "Kay" Ross

What Evidence is Needed to see that a Concept was Stolen?

A recent suit has been filed against McCarthy and Falcone about their "Life of the Party" script. But what kind of evidence would the plaintiff need to show they stole the idea.

Melissa McCarthy, Warner Bros, Gersh, Brett Ratner & Ben Falcone Sued For More Than $10M In 'Life Of The Party' Ripoff Suit
Melissa McCarthy, Warner Bros, Gersh, Brett Ratner & Ben Falcone Sued For More Than $10M In 'Life Of The Party' Ripoff Suit
The more than $10 million breach of contract lawsuit just filed over the 2018 Melissa McCarthy starrer Life of the Party may prove a party pooper for the Ghostbusters actress, Warner Bros, director Be…
Shadow Dragu-Mihai

So... appropos this - with the SAME people involved - take a look at Carrie Cain Spark's spy movie comedy from 2004 The Spy Who Boned Us, and then gander at both Spy and The Spy Who Dumped US. McCarthy et al (the Saturday Night Live writers were much the same group in these...) lifted plot, story line and even character descriptions and names from Carrie Sparks feature. (Her actual script being in the Academy library)... Litigation is pending and now may be a good time to make the waves. Theft of story - not just the idea, the actual story and story elements. This group in particular is a bad group of unoriginal people. See Carrie Cain Sparks info at

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

...and to answer the question, they need show only the similarity in idea... which is usually blatant... and the opportunity to access that idea. Easy where the material is published or a released film, or accessible in an industry library, or all three.

Kiril Maksimoski

Shadow, how do you explain White House Down/Olympus has fallen and Deep Impact/Armageddon and such basically twin movies having even releases on same years?

I think concept as such is impossible to protect and I think it's better this way, as many spec scripts building on already proven successful concept will have greater chances to sell or option. Now, stealing a concept via script...that's whole new ball game...

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

Kiril Maksimoski Let's not forget that in the studio world, scripts and treatments get passed around a lot and everyone watches what everyone else is doing. I am going from memory here, but as far as Deep Impact/Armageddon, it is actually well documented (there's even a Wikipedia page on it). The major studios were all looking specifically for disaster movies and a number of asteroid films had been shopped around. In fact they were specifically competing to get an asteroid film to market first. One of the controversies was that Spielberg, who XPd Deep Impact and was committed to the project selected Mimi Leder to direct AFTER he found out about the Armageddon project, but didn't tell her until after she had signed on. His apparent reasoning was that as a directing gig, it was a potential disaster given the competing film, and he decided not to let his directing reputation not be tarnished (Spielberg is well known for this kind of maneuvering with other directors and writers). Simply stated: how different can a asteroid-destroying-the-world-disaster movie be? Aside from that, they are in fact much different films. I haven't looked at the White House Down/Olympus is Falling event, but.... likely similar. Here's a (relatively) recent article on Deep Impact/Armageddon:

Lindbergh E Hollingsworth

And lets not forget Fox had Volcano and Universal had Dante's Peak ... competing volcano movies, ugh.

Doug Nelson

More higher priced Attorneys?

Gary Tucker

I think that being able to prove that a project has been stolen from you is much liking pitching a project to potential investors/executives etc etc. . Your project HAS to have a certain degree of visual and tangible conceptualization where it could establish reasonable doubt to the courts. So for example, if you had a script or any drafts of it, a log-line that you can prove has been shared w/ the defendants, a short or mock trailer, maybe some storyboards, stuff like that, and finally be able to point out the specific details that could establish more reasonable doubt.

Kiril Maksimoski

Shadow Dragu-Mihai thank you for the insight. I wasn't aware of the Deep Impact/Armageddon case, but sensing Spielberg is a shark, nothing surprising :) However, you'll find similarities of the later even more intriguing. Basically main difference for me was that POTUS is Caucasian in one and African-American in the other film.

Jack Sprat I completely agree, still some movies make similarities overtop. Lindbergh E Hollingsworth gave another good example above.

Dan MaxXx

One famous lawsuit settled was against James Cameron for “The Terminator.”

Another writer sued both Cameron & the Wachowski’s for The Matrix.

Tony S.

That was Harlan Ellison over his OUTER LIMITS script for SOLDIER. Cameron was forced to pay money and add a credit in THE TERMINATOR end roll, ""Acknowledgment to the Works of Harlan Ellison."

To answer the OP, in this case, watch the first three minutes of SOLDIER and then THE TERMINATOR. They are eerily identical, as is the core story.

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