MANHATTAN (CN) – A federal judge rejected a screenwriter’s claims to have written a script that inspired the movie “Alien vs. Predator.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin found that the two screenplays “tell two very different stories.”
Judge Chin found that James Muller produced no evidence that Twentieth Century Fox, producer Davis Entertainment or director Paul W.S. Anderson had ever seen his screenplay, let alone stolen from it.
“As its title suggested, ‘Alien vs. Predator’ told the story of a battle between extraterrestrial creatures, the ‘Aliens’ and the ‘Predators,’ from Fox’s earlier hit movies, ‘Alien and Predator’ – with humans caught between,” Chin wrote in his 41-page opinion, rejecting the copyright infringement claim.
Muller claimed that the movie was similar to a piece he had written 8 years earlier, ‘The Lost Continent,’ which involves “a government-led expedition to the Antarctic to investigate a mysterious structure below the frozen surface, a secret plan by a group called the ‘Freemasons’ to recover a powerful crystal from the ancient city of Atlantis, and attacks by stone gargoyles come-to-life,” the opinion states.
“Muller contends that the Screenplay and the Film share a ‘striking similarity,'” Chin wrote. “As a comparison of the Screenplay and the Film make clear, this is simply not so. No reasonable jury could find that the two works were strikingly similar. To the contrary … they are very different works.”
Muller said that Anderson could have received his screenplay through submissions to the producers or third parties. “These assertions fail, however, to raise a genuine issue for trial, for they are based on speculation and conjecture rather than concrete evidence,” the opinion states.
In depositions, Anderson denied having received or even heard about Muller’s screenplay before the lawsuit.
Chin was not persuaded by Muller’s expert witness, who produced original and supplemental reports listing several hundred alleged similarities between the two works, in theme, plot, setting, sequence, characters, and dialogue.
Several of the allegedly lifted lines, Chin wrote, were actually different from their purported sources.
“Muller contends, for example, that the following two phrases are substantially similar: ‘We don’t have that kind of time. I’m not the only one with a satellite over Antarctica. Others will be here soon’ and ‘The mission will be to evaluate what you find and decide if it’s any threat to the security of the United States.’ … Even an extremely strained reading of the two fails to reveal an underlying similarity, let alone substantial similarity,” the opinion states.
Chin wrote that, ultimately, the comparison between the two works did not require fine parsing.
“The expert misses the forest for the trees, as he ignores the inescapable fact that the two works tell two very different stories,” the judge found.