It's that season again: lawsuit season in Hollywood. In the last few weeks suits have been brought against Angelina Jolie over her film In the Land of Blood and Honey and against James Cameron over Avatar. Both suits claim plagiarism. What's interesting about the Jolie case is that Josip J. Knezevic, the journalist who claims she ripped him off, is seeking an injunction against it's opening. As The Chicago Sun-Times points out normally these cases are filed after it's established that the movie is going to be a money maker (money maker = higher settlement). I'll be keeping an eye on these to see how they shake out.
Both of these cases reminded me of another one filed in the 90s, a case I consider moronic more for the cruelty of its timing than for its frivolity. On December 20, 1996 astronomer and astrophysicist Carl Sagan died after a long battle with myelodysplasia. EIGHT DAYS LATER his estate was sued by Francis Ford Coppola to stop the filming of Contact, which was in production and being directed by Robert Zemeckis. The wikipedia aritcle about the movie can explain the genesis of the controversy (one of a few) better than I can. While I think Coppola might have had a point, if as the court seems to indicate he did have an agreement with Sagan, it's lost in that he took so long to file. He would have had a right to file after the release of the novel in 1985 but he didn't and it's not like it didn't sell (it was ranked #7 on the Publisher's Weekly list of bestsellers for that year), so why did he wait until Sagan's family was in mourning? Ultimately the suit was dismissed.
I don't think this is quite what Sagan had in mind when he wrote Contact but it was on the public access channel in my area the other night. If you've never seen this movie, well, the trailer pretty much covers it. Glad there were no disputes about this classic. Santa conquers everyone, not just Martians, right? Have a good weekend.