Universal shelled out $1.2 million for Aaron Berg's ‘Section 6' script — but the final price could be a lot higher
MGM and Danjaq have sued Universal, accusing the film studio of developing a James Bond “knock-off” that infringes upon their copyright, according to documents filed Thursday in a United States District Court. The project in question is “Section 6,” a film in development based on Aaron Berg's screenplay.
Berg, also a defendant in the case, sold the project to Universal last year after an intense bidding war. The historical spy thriller chronicles the formation of British intelligence agency MI6 around the time of World War I – before any of the Bond movies took place. It also examines its first director, George Mansfield Cummings, the inspiration for M in the “James Bond” series.
“Instead of creating something original, Universal and Berg decided to take an easier path, by freely helping themselves to vast portions of the copyright-protected expresion that Ian Fleming created, and that Danjaq and MGM further developed over the last fifty-plus years,” the suit alleges.
Lawyer Robert Schwartz told TheWrap his clients sent Universal a 20-page dossier last fall detailing their concerns, and Universal assured them any film – should it happen – would be very different from Berg's screenplay. Universal has since hired “Attack the Block” filmmaker to direct the movie and “Unbroken” star Jack O'Connell to play the male lead.
Schwartz reached back out to the studio asking to take a look at the script, or any other materials.
“They said no, and we inferred from that that the script, even if they changed it, continued to infringe,” Schwartz told TheWrap. “Therefore we needed to take legal action.”
Universal declined to comment on the suit, which lists a number of ways MGM and Danjaq believe “Section 6” pilfers from their beloved Bond franchise. The alleged infringements include the way the protagonist introduces himself – last name first, and then the full name – to a raft of similar characters.
The similarities also seem to include lots of beautiful young women. There's probably nothing MGM can do about that.
Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.