‘Elysium’ Director Neill Blomkamp, Sony, Producers Sued for Copyright Infringement

'Elysium' Director Neill Blomkamp, Sony, Producers Sued for Copyright Infringement

Screenwriter Steve Wilson Briggs alleges that the “Elysium” filmmakers cribbed from his “Butterfly Driver” script

Screenwriter Steve Wilson Briggs has sued Sony Pictures, TriStar pictures, Media Rights Capital, QED International and director Neill Blomkamp over similarities between their recent sci-fi movie “Elysium” and his screenplay “Butterfly Driver,” according to the lawsuit obtained by TheWrap.

Briggs filed the lawsuit for copyright infringement on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California.

A spokesperson for TriStar declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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Briggs alleges that “Elysium” infringes on the heart of his “Butterfly Driver” story as well as its plot, characters, unusual settings, themes, conflict, catalyst, crisis, climax-twist, the hero's unique “character-affiliation,” the hero's “keepsake necklace” and more.

The writer claims that “Elysium” is substantially similar to his work, that the defendants had access to his work and that the parties tried to disguise their infringement.

Briggs finished the first draft of the script in May 2005 and registered a revised version with the WGA-West in Dec. 2005. In February 2007, he posted the entire script on Kevin Spacey and Dana Brunetti's screenwriting website TriggerStreet.com, which is how Briggs claims Blomkamp had access to the script and the ideas within. He registered his script with the U.S. Copyright Office in June 2013 in order to file an infringement complaint.

There are indeed a number of similarities between the two scripts, as alleged in the lawsuit, though these types of claims are commonplace in Hollywood, particularly with regard to blockbuster studio movies. Since opening in August, “Elysium” has grossed $272 million worldwide to date.

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Briggs, whose lone credit on IMDb is as the writer, director and producer of the feature film “The Amazing Mr. Excellent,” is currently a teacher's aide at Sequoia High School in Redwood City, California.

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.

  • AJ

    Elysium had such a tired, generic plot that anybody interested in scifi has independently thought of that story and those characters over and over again.

    Should we all jump up and sue the people who bothered to put the time in and get it on a screen?

    • Dilpickledoado

      It was truly a generic film. Story has been told a million times and a million times better. I don't have high hopes for Chappie whatsoever. Peter Jackson's name and involvement in D9 was a gift of a lifetime for Blomkamp.

      • Chris Bob

        Peter Jackson's involvement was no more than him funding it. Regardless of what happens to Blomkamp's career from here on out, he's still solely responsible for making one of the most enjoyable–and refreshing–scifi action films since “The Matrix.”

        “Chappie”, IMO, with what little we know, at least sounds more interesting than “Elysium.” I'm willing to give the director the benefit of the doubt considering he's returning to a filming style that plays more to his strengths–and the cast is absolutely fucking bizarre. I'm expecting something far less conventional with this one.

        As for the lawsuit… it will get thrown out.

  • Gimme A Break

    Wait, so let me get this straight – if I post my screenplay on a website, everyone in the world theoretically had “access” so I can sue for copyright infringement, even if there is no other connection? This is the stupidest lawsuit in the history of frivolous lawsuits and this a-hole and his attorney should be publicly scorned by all.