It’s pretty common in Hollywood for writers to feel they’ve been ripped off. After all, there are only so many ideas out there and with everyone trying to feed the same commercial needs, there’s going to be overlap. However, it’s not often that these concerns get litigious, but it happened today with a lawsuit launched against Sylvester Stallone over his screenplay for The Expendables.
Marcus Webb claims that he copyrighted a script in 2006 that he then made public to the studios called Cordoba Caper about a group of mercenaries recruited to defeat a dictator. Does it sound similar to The Expendables? Absolutely, but here’s the thing: it’s also one of the most generic action movie concepts around. Part of the point of Stallone’s movie (beyond blowing crap up and following the explosions with one-liners) was to recreate an '80s action flick at its most basic and the generic “kill a dictator” plot couldn’t be more simple than that.
The court case seems totally laughable and I can’t imagine that Webb has much of a case. Now, if he’d written a screenplay about a planet of blue people whose nature-loving innocence is spoiled by an invasion of greedy humans, then he’d have a case. Although that story is pretty similar to Pocahontas hmm, perhaps another lawsuit is in order.
Failed Dark Tower Movie Now Headed to HBO
Back in the summer it looked like plans to bring Stephen King's epic Dark Tower novels to the big screen in a series of films seemed like a lock. Despite having the power of the endlessly commercial Ron Howard/Brian Grazer production team on board, the films fell apart, but now it appears the project has a savior in HBO.
Since the project fell apart Grazer has slashed $45 million out of the budget and recently revealed in an interview that, "We're going to do The Dark Tower with HBO. We'll do the TV with HBO, and we'll do the movie with to be determined. We'll do it right." So, I guess plans for the movie aren’t completely lost and at least longtime fans desperate to see the series play out on screen will finally get the opportunity to do so, albeit on a smaller screen than initially planned.
The move also shows just how much television has grown in respectability over the last decade. Not that long ago it would have been a sign of defeat to take a project to television after the movie well dried up. These days, TV is actually the place that offers the most freedom (well, depending on the network, of course). It’s good news for fans of King, but how long it will take for the project to actually start screening is another question entirely.
Spielberg Talks Indy 5 and Jurassic Park 4
Finally, what better way could there be to cap off today’s column than with a few words from the bearded master of big screen entertainment, Steven Spielberg. The man isn’t known for doing many interviews since his movies tend to be hits before they are even released, but he spilled the beans today about a couple of high profile sequels he has in the works.
First off, the man confirmed that Jurassic Park 4 is currently being written and that, “We have a good story. We have a better story for four than we had for three." Which is damn good sign because the story for the third Jurassic Park outing wasn’t exactly a classic.
Speaking of disappointing Spielberg-related sequels, the guy also had some interesting comments to make about the loathed Indiana Jones and The Crystal Skull, specifically the laughable sci-fi conclusion. “George and I had big arguments about the [aliens],” admitted Spielberg. “I didn't want these things to be either aliens or inter-dimensional beings. But I am loyal to my best friend. When he writes a story he believes in - even if I don't believe in it - I'm going to shoot the movie the way George envisaged it. I'll add my own touches, I'll bring my own cast in, I'll shoot the way I want to shoot it, but I will always defer to George as the storyteller of the Indy series. I will never fight him on that."
So the blame for the crappy Indiana Jones movie has unsurprisingly been passed on to the man who also ruined Star Wars. Fans everywhere would love it if the Spielberg/Lucas team could do one more Indy movie to wash the vomit-inducing Crystal Skull taste out of their mouths, but the director had one thing to say on the matter of the next outing in the series that is certainly worrying. “George is in charge of breaking the stories. He's done it on all four movies. Whether I like the stories or not, George has broken all the stories. He is working on Indy V. We haven't gone to screenplay yet, but he's working on the story. I'll leave it to George to come up with a good story."
Great, so there’s a chance that very soon there could be just as many disappointing Indiana Jones movies as there are disappointing Star Wars movies. Seriously, why does Lucas hate his fans so much?