Warner Bros. Prevails in ‘Matrix’ Lawsuit

Warner Bros. Prevails in 'Matrix' Lawsuit

Writer had claimed that the sci-fi trilogy had been lifted from his screenplay

Warner Bros. Entertainment has dodged a bullet in a lawsuit brought against it over the “Matrix” trilogy.

Warner Bros. has emerged triumphant in a complaint brought against it, claiming that the idea for “The Matrix” was swiped from another screenplay.

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The lawsuit, filed by Thomas Althouse in January 2013, alleged that the idea for “The Matrix” was taken from his screenplay “The Immortals,” which he began writing in 1992.

According to a ruling issued by federal judge R Gary Klausner, “The Immortals” revolves around a present-day CIA agent, Jim Reece, who's provided with a drug that makes him immortal. Reece later finds himself in the year 2235 A.D., attempting to spoil the plot of Adolf Hitler's son and a party of immortal Nazis, who intend to wipe out the entire population of non-immortals.

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Klausner claimed that he had submitted his screenplay to Warner Bros. Entertainment in 1993, after which Joel Silver found the screenplay in Warner Bros.’ database and gave it to “Matrix” writers/directors Andy and Lana Wachowski.

Althouse listed 118 alleged similarities between “The Immortals” and the “Matrix” trilogy.

However, in his decision granting Warner Bros.’ motion for summary judgment, Klausner determined that “all of Plaintiff's examples are either too general for copyright protection, are scènes à faire [scenes that are mandated by or customary to a genre], or are commonly used, unoriginal ideas.”

Likewise, when it comes to the two projects’ plots, the judge found that there are “no substantial similarities” and that “the basic premises of the Matrix Trilogy and ‘The Immortals’ are so different that it would be unreasonable to find their plots substantially similar.”

With regard to their Christ-figure themes, Klausner wrote, “Plaintiff alleges that other stories have allusions to Christ. However, allusions to Christianity in literature date back hundreds of years and are not generally protectible.”

Pamela Chelin contributed to this report.