'Avatar' subject of lawsuit claiming idea was stolen
December 9th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

'Avatar' subject of lawsuit claiming idea was stolen

James Cameron's blockbuster "Avatar" is involved in a lawsuit in which a man claims that he helped develop the idea for the highest-grossing domestic picture to date, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

In a complaint filed Thursday, Eric Ryder alleges that a story he worked on for two years with the production company went on to become "Avatar" and that he's been shut out of the success.

Ryder claims he worked on a treatment called "K.R.Z. 2068," a science fiction story that, after being presented to Lightstorm Entertainment, was to be turned into an "environmentally themed 3-D epic about a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous natural setting."

The complaint also alleges that the story included "anthropomorphic, organically created beings that populated the moon," a "corporation spy," and "self-contained robotic exterior suits which house a single human operator."

Ryder says he worked with the production company to further develop components for the film project, including 3-D imagery. The complaint alleges that "after some two years of enthusiastically working with Mr. Ryder on the film's development," the production company allegedly said that the movie wouldn't work because "no one would be interested in an environmentally themed science fiction film."

Ryder alleges that he entered into an "implied agreement" that he'd be compensated and credited for the material should the company "use or exploit any of the material" that Ryder claims he had a hand in.

Of course, the 2009 production of "Avatar" was not only a critical hit but a commercial one, having earned $760 million domestically at the box office.

As THR notes, this isn't the first time someone has brought a lawsuit against filmmaker Cameron and his company, as another allegation surfaced in 2010.

Filed under: Avatar • movies

soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Your mother

    Avatar was such a great movie...*sigh*

    It pains me to see other people getting jealous of James, and suing him for money because they're mad and lost.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:31 am | Report abuse |
  2. PhilG.

    There are aspects to Avatar which run through alot of fables and historical happenings.

    I'd be surprised oif the plantiff can prove his story is ,in itself,special enough to warrant copyright status.

    In fact,this is exactly why you never disclose your work until it is copyrighted-to you..

    December 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KevinCostner

    I thought Avatar ripped off Dances with Wolves. Think about that one. But here is my idea for the sequel. The Earthers return and bomb the nature loving natives from space. Then they move in and start exploiting the natural resources. You heard it hear first.

    December 10, 2011 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
    • ranwolf

      You stole that from "How it should have ended" they should sue you.

      Also it seems Avatar was partially based on the story "Call me Joe" by Poul Anderson

      December 10, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. The Måd Råp3r

    I was unaware Jesus Christ worked on Avatar. Maybe that's why it did so well.

    December 10, 2011 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joe

    Sounds like this guy stole JC's idea and is now trying to sue JC for his own idea. This is a classic psychopath script here. Psychopaths routinely steal the work of others and claim its their own. I doubt this case will get very far.

    December 10, 2011 at 3:00 am | Report abuse |
  6. krazy karla

    I had a dream exactly like the movie so I'm gonna sue James Cameron!

    December 9, 2011 at 9:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. iBod

    This guy is just dumb. If he sues, his case will wind down to whether or not his story was "original" and Avatar was an "exact replica of his STORY." Bits and pieces, like the "robots" part is a poor argument.
    Or better yet: His "anthropomorphic, organically created beings that populated the moon" do not, in actuality, "populate" Pandora. They are, in simple terms, used to "study" the Na'vi. On top of that, his idea of "anthropomorphic, organically created beings" is not an original idea at all. If this guy played a big role as he claims in production, then he'd be handing over more specifics and evidence than he is stating.
    But to make a case, "Story" can be defined by referring to both James Cameron's original writeup and final script to Avatar. The case can't be made by what's seen on the screen, but by what is written in the script.

    December 9, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jrock

      I believe the anapo-whatever you call em beings DO populate Pandora. They're not used to study the Na'vi, they ARE the Na'vi

      September 20, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Pixelicious

    I'm thinking of suing Avatar for stealing my favorite way of having intercourse.

    December 9, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Squidward

    Just reading the headline, I was sure this lawsuit was going to be from the "Dances with Wolves" production team. It was a pretty movie, but they really needed a more original story to make it a good movie. It will not stand the test of time as Star Wars or Lord of the Rings have.

    December 9, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. xdougx

    Disney should sue for them ripping off Pocahontas.

    December 9, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |


    December 9, 2011 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. carrieanne

    I wonder if hed be suing if Avatar was a flop? At the same time, if theyre throwing money away, here I am!

    December 9, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. The Måd Råp3r

    Never saw it. I figured it was just the Smurfs with guns and furries

    December 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Violet

    I'm not a fan of sci-fi movies but I *loved* "Avatar". I never go to movie theatres so naturally I watched it on HBO. I don't think it could be any better in 3-D. IMO

    December 9, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Steve-O

      You missed out then. Avatar has been the only movie to do 3D justice.

      December 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. @jan

    In your opinion. Who fell for what hype ? Did you run to the theater as soon as it came out ? I waited untill it came out on dvd. Rented for cheap. I liked the movie myself.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Chris

    "self-contained robotic exterior suits which house a single human operator"

    Oh, like Robotech or any other battle-mech themed cartoon or game?

    December 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Superhiro

      Seriously, the idea of robotic battle suits has been around since the original Starship Troopers book at least, and that was what? Like the 50s?

      December 9, 2011 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Superhiro

    Yea... Actually the story came from Pocahontas, so this guy just ripped that story off

    December 9, 2011 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
    • QSP4

      Try Fern Gully...they ripped the whole "nature can feel pain and is apart of all life" theme from them. All they did was move it to another panet in the future. Oh, but it was a great movie–and I enjoyed it thoroughly

      December 9, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • derp

      Could not agree more. My kids were little when Ferngully came out. I've watched it 1000 times. The similarities are ridiculous. Avatar completely ripped off Ferngully. They should have just named the characters Zach, Christa and Madgie Loon.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Superhiro

      The "nature can feel pain" stuff you're talking about is an actual concept from numerous old civilizations. I sincerely doubt Ferngully created that concept.

      December 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  18. little debbie

    They made enuff money on the movie if the lawsuit goes through. I personally liked avatar. Sounds like he snoozed and was mad to loose.

    December 9, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
    • jan

      Avatar was an overated movie. I can't belive we all fell for the hype. This movie will be forgotten in a few years.

      December 9, 2011 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |

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