Quentin Tarantino Sued Over ‘Django Unchained’ Alleged Copyright Infringement

django unchained jamie foxx
Courtesy of Weinstein Co.

Quentin Tarantino, The Weinstein Company and Columbia Pictures have been accused of copyright infringement through their 2012 movie “Django Unchained.”

The filmmaker and the distributors were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed on Dec. 24 in federal court in Washington, D.C., by Oscar Colvin, Jr. and his son Torrrance J. Colvin. The Colvins assert that the defendants have infringed on the copyright of their screenplay “Freedom,” citing what they allege are extensive similarities to Tarantino’s Oscar-winning script for “Django Unchained.”

The movie was directed by Tarantino and starred Jamie Foxx as the titular Django Freeman along with  Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson. “Django Unchained,” set in the late 1850s in the Old West and antebellum South, has elements of spaghetti Westerns and serves as a tribute to Sergio Corbucci’s 1966 film “Django.”

In the film, Django joins forces with German bounty hunter King Schultz (Waltz), who promises to free him in exchange for his help in collecting bounties on three outlaws. Waltz won a best supporting actor Oscar for his performance and the film — distributed domestically by TWC and internationally by Columbia — was a major commercial success with $425 million in worldwide grosses.

The suit alleges that the Corbins registered “Freedom” with the Writers Guild of America in 2004 and took it into CAA and the William Morris Agency. The Corbins also placed the script on Triggerstreet’s script web site.

“There are a plethora of similarities between ‘Freedom’ and ‘Django Unchained,'” the suit asserts. “Defendants would call them coincidences, however, the intentional use of our work is neither an
accident nor coincidence.”

Referring to the “Freedom” script, the suit said, “Before Django Freeman, there was an escaped slave named Jackson Freeman who desired to purchase his family’s freedom from a malevolent plantation owner.”

The suit also alleges, “Defendant Tarantino claims to have based his screenplay on Sergio Corbucci’s ‘Django,’ but the truth is that there are far more similarities between ‘Freedom’ and ‘Django Unchained’ than between ‘Django’ and ‘Django Unchained.'”

The suit asserts that a key plot point, in which Django returns to free his wife (played by Washington) from her plantation owner (DiCaprio), was taken from “Freedom”: “Returning to the hellish realm of the South to purchase the freedom of his loved one(s) with the assistance of a Caucasian in the South is the uniquely original beat that links ‘Django Unchained’ to ‘Freedom.'”

The suit asks for compensatory damages of more than “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

A rep for Columbia’s parent Sony Pictures declined to comment. Reps for Tarantino and TWC did not respond to requests for comment.

The suit was filed the day before TWC released Tarantino’s Western “The Hateful Eight.”

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  1. aabellauthor says:

    … and it took them this long to invent their story, because any *good* writer would know that the alleged “critical” beat about a Caucasian being needed to help a Negro in that situation is *not* unique. It’s one of only 3 ways the story could work:
    * He goes alone,
    * He goes with a fellow Negro,
    * or – more ironically – he needs help from a white man.

    Hmmm… gee… it’s so hard to guess which is more believable, powerful and appealing to a wider audience… NOT. They should be blacklisted for being so stupid.

  2. Mr Furious says:

    Tarantino is the King of Thieves. It makes me sick that that asshole continues to get so much praise when all he does is rip off other people’s work.

  3. Billy Ray Virus says:

    If I was Mira Sorvino I’d leave QT and tell him his movies suck! Oh that already happened! How about QT and George Lucas make Kid-Friendly movies and take on Disney? Star Force of the Future! Django Unhinged.

  4. anthonyammo says:

    It’s so weird to me how people choose sides on an issue when there are barely any details. Your bias for or against Tarantino shouldn’t cause you to jump to conclusions.

  5. Mackie Messer says:

    It is undeniable that Tarantino steals other people’s ideas from other movies. Undeniable. So why is everyone so quick to assume these writers don’t have a case. Maybe they don’t, but the odds are just as good that they do. The Tarantino fanboys can’t handle the truth that their hero swipes many of his ideas from others.

    • Nullifidian says:

      The fact that they don’t cite any derivations more specific than might be expected from any Hollywood revenge flick is a bit of a clue that they don’t have a case. When Tarantino rips off other filmmakers, they’re almost always the famous ones like David Lynch (Kill Bill Vol. 1 was so derivative of him that I turned it off in exasperation less than halfway through), not no-name screenwriters who can’t distinguish the concepts of plot and screenplay.

  6. Mackie Messer says:

    Bet they’re also right, you bigoted jerk. If they were plagiarized what difference does their race make or are only white people allowed to file lawsuits like this?

  7. Spider says:

    If “Django” would have bombed, there wouldn’t have been a lawsuit.

  8. His movies suck..maybe I will make a movie about someone slaughtering everyone..Terrible movies and not much of a innovater

  9. relavak says:

    Who is going to come out of the woodwork to claim H8ful Eight? Tenacious Ten?

    • Doug R says:

      Agatha Christie’s estate with “Ten Little Indians” or “And Then There Were None” or even Family Guy.

    • Mackie Messer says:

      Probably the writer of that episode of “The Rebel” that Tarantino ripped off. If the guy is still alive. You can read about that bit of plagiarism right here on Variety in Joe Leydon’s Cowboys and Indians piece.

      • Caractacus Jack says:

        I promise you The Hateful Eight plays out rather differently than any episode of a tv western form the 1950s and 1960s.

  10. Well it’s been awhile since Django Unchained was released… why did they wait so long to file?

  11. Sara C says:

    Corbin or Colvin? You call the accusers two different names in the article…

  12. Steve McKay says:

    I had a script for Star Wars back in the 70s. Even the names of the characters were similar. Hand Solo and Princess Lay. It was a porno and the script was pretty similar except the Death Star was a big black dude who liked to explode all over the galaxy. Yeah kinda hard to win that lawsuit. Nonetheless..

  13. Centurion says:

    Maybe Tarentino did steal the idea. We shall see in court

  14. Don’t give a shite if he ripped a bunch of it off. Give the whiners the money. Plenty to go around. Everybody wins. Everybody wins.

    • In all likelihood, they don’t deserve the money. They wanted a good three years to say anything and don’t appear to have all that compelling a case since they have to prove that he deliberately took the material and used it without their permission. Similarities between the two screenplays will not be enough.

  15. Shawna Waldron says:

    i hate these people who look at similar stories and try to make money on it. If they wrote as well as Tarantino, then their film would’ve been shot.

  16. Bill says:

    I have a hard time with “copyright infringement” suits filed THREE YEARS after a film’s release.

    Were this some small art film seen in three theaters, OK, that I’d understand.

    But a major studio release (and especially on the eve of the director’s new film?)

    A money grab, nothing more.

  17. Lisa says:

    HAHAHAHAHAHA. No merit whatsoever. IF QT wants to steal an idea for a movie, he steals it from a movie that’s already been made and not some wannabe’s script.

  18. Miles Maker says:

    I’ve always wondered why these suits rear their ugly heads so long after the film in question has been released. Do they wait for it to make tons of $ to potentially collect more in damages?

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