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Sci-Fi Writer Claims Credit for ‘Avatar’

LOS ANGELES (CN) - A science-fiction writer claims James Cameron and his production company ripped off his story "KRZ 2068" and made the film "Avatar" from it, the top-grossing box office film of all time.

Eric Ryder claims in Superior Court that he worked with Cameron's production company, Lightstorm Entertainment, for almost 2 years to develop his science fiction story, "KRZ 2068," into a 3-D movie.

Ryder's story followed "a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous natural setting, the corporation's spy sent to crush an insurrection on the distant moon among anthropomorphic, organically created beings populating that moon, and the spy's remote sensing experiences with the beings, emotional attachment to one of them in particular, and eventual spiritual transformation into a leader of the lunar beings' revolt against the corporation's mining practices," according to the complaint.

Ryder says he pitched the story to Lightstorm in 1999, "with the expectation and understanding that he would be compensated and receive writer and produced credits, in the event any of the KRZ development project's material was used in a motion picture released for commercial distribution."

Ryder says he also provided the production company with "treatments, photographs, 3-D visual representations and imagery, character and scene development, story element and production ideas, and screenplay development assistance, in anticipation of the motion picture's production."

He claims Lightstorm agreed not to use any of the material without Ryder "sharing in the commercial receipts and the writer and production credits."

But after 2 years of development work, Ryder says, the production company told him the film could not be made "because no one would be interested in an environmentally themed science fiction feature film."

Ryder claims Cameron actually wanted to make a movie with "striking similarities."

According to Ryder, Lightstorm refused to "make good on its implied promises to him" after "Avatar" was released.

He says Lightstorm claims "Avatar" is "owned solely by producers that do not include him, that Avatar was, supposedly, written solely by James Cameron; and that Mr. Cameron, supposedly, had prepared a full scriptment [sic] for Avatar before the 1999 time period in which LEI was ... first provided with the KRZ story." (3)

Ryder claims "Avatar" has many similarities with his story, including that a "character is envisioned to be played by or styled after Sigourney Weaver," that there is "an increasing and ultimately foreboding threat to continued existence of natural environment," and that there is a "happy ending" when the spy prevents the corporation from destroying the moon's environment.

The first in a planned trilogy, "Avatar" grossed $2.7 billion worldwide at the box office. Cameron told Entertainment Weekly that he wrote a scriptment for the movie in 1994, and wrote the full script in 2006.

Ryder seeks punitive damages and a share of the profits, for breach of contract, breach of implied contract, fraud, and interference with prospective economic advantage.

He is represented by K. Andrew Kent and Gregory Albright with Rincon Venture Law Group in Westlake Village.

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