David Elliot and Paul Lovett have a credit on, and received payment for, their work in writing the first GI Joe movie, Rise of the Cobra. After that film’s success, they were invited in by the sequel’s producers to pitch their take for a sequel.
In their new legal claim against Paramount and MGM, Elliot and Lovett state plenty of evidence that their pitch and the final film as produced are “substantially similar in every material way.” As a result, they’re looking for $23 million in damages.
I have to say, reading the full complaint – which thanks to Deadline, you can read below as a PDF – it quickly becomes obvious that the points of similarity between pitch and finished film are numerous and seem meaningful. I have no idea, however, if they’re substance enough for a court to find in favour of Elliot and Lovett. None of us know how this happened, either – and it’d be particularly interesting, as an observer, if a court could actually figure that out.
There are several interesting little pieces in the full document. Pages 7 through 13 offer a synopsis of Elliot and Lovett’s proposal, and I think you’ll find it pretty familiar; pages 14 through 23 show over 50 side-by-side comparisons of what was pitched and what was finally released; and page 5 establishes a legal definition of “reboot,” a word I’ve always been quite pernickety about myself.
Here’s that bit:
the writers had artistic freedom to start fresh the GI Joe storyline by creating new backstories for any of the existing characters [or eliminating one or more such characters, if desired], creating new characters and altering prior events in the GI Joe lore…
So now we know. It’s as simple as that.
Incidentally, Elliot and Lovett also use the complaint to implicitly bash on the first film a little, commenting on how unlike their intentions it ultimately was, both in terms of tone and content. Cruel irony.
Here are all 113 pages of the complaint.