A federal judge in New York has ordered a trial in the case against DreamWorks and Warner Bros. alleging that “The Island” was based on 1979 indie pic “Parts: The Clonus Horror.”
Studios had asked that the case be dismissed, but U.S. District Court Judge Shira A. Scheindlin ruled there were several issues best reserved for a jury, such as the degree of similarity between the two films.
Lawsuit was brought by “Clonus” producer-director Robert S. Fiveson and Clonus Associates.
The judge said she could not summarily decide in favor of Fiveson because it was impossible to conclude from the evidence that the resemblance between the two films was so overwhelming as to mandate such an action. She said a jury would have to weigh whether the similarities were qualitatively substantial.
When “The Island” was released in 2005, several reviewers referred to “Clonus,” which revolved around a secret colony of clones who are raised for spare organs. One of the clones escapes into Southern California to expose the facility.
“The Island,” directed by Michael Bay, also revolved around a colony of clones raised to provide spare parts for humans, with two of the clones escaping into a futuristic Los Angeles in an attempt to expose the colony and shut the facility down.
When the lawsuit was filed, DreamWorks issued a statement saying “The Island” was independently created and did not infringe on anyone’s copyrights.
Those issues aside, DreamWorks also has argued plaintiffs were not entitled to any damages because “The Island” wasn’t profitable.
The judge, however, said the defendants’ method of calculating was highly contested by the plaintiffs and that the defendants did not provide supporting documentation when filing a declaration saying “The Island” made zero profit.
DreamWorks and Warners declined comment on the judge’s ruling.
DreamWorks released the picture domestically, Warners overseas. In the U.S., the pic — which reportedly cost $120 million to make –grossed only $35.8 million at the box office. Its overseas take was $124.5 million.