Screenwriters David Elliot and Paul Lovett are seeking more than $23 million in damages in their suit claiming that their ideas for a sequel to “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra” were stolen by Paramount, MGM and Di Bonaventura Pictures to make “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
A twist in the writers’ claim for copyright infringement and breach of implied contract is that they were among three scribes who got screenplay credit for “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra” but they were not credited for the followup, “Retaliation,” which was released in March. They contend that despite extensive pitch meetings for “Retaliation,” in which they conveyed “unique plotlines, themes, characters, relationships, settings, scenes, sequences, dialogue, mood, pacing and fictional inventions,” the producers and studio hired a different team to pen the screenplay.
Also named as a defendant in the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, is Hasbro Inc.
Elliot and Lovett’s 100-plus page complaint seems written to push back against a defense that their stories are based on a character copyrighted by Hasbro for its long-running toy line, or that they are norms of the action genre that do not fall under copyright protection.
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The writers, however, say that “Retaliation” contains elements of their “unique creation” and “personal creativity,” one that was a “comprehensive vision to completely reimagine” the “G.I. Joe” franchise. In fact, they claim that “Rise of the Cobra” departed extensively from their work, even though they were credited, while the sequel is “substantially similar” to their work “in every material way.” They said that they were invited to pitch for the sequel yet were given “very little guidance” on the direction of what it should be.
Their complaint includes their treatment for the sequel.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” has so far grossed almost $120 million at the domestic box office.
A spokesman for Paramount declined comment.