Even a film with a pretty basic plotline like Sylvester Stallone's 'The Expendables' can still get sued for stealing someone else's story idea, but Marcus Webb shows that there are several similarities to his 'The Cordoba Caper'.
Marcus Webb registered his "The Cordoba Caper" screenplay and a short story with the same title and plot in June 2006. Between 2006 and 2009, the lawsuit said, the screenplay was made widely available by Webb for consideration in the movie industry. As anyone who is a writer know, this is pretty normal, especially if you submit to an agency where it gets viewed by many people you don't even know have checked it out. For unknown writers, this is always the double edged sword since you know the only way to sell your script is to get it out there, but as many of us more jaded ones know, the studios love stealing ideas too.
According to Webb's lawsuit, "The Cordoba Caper" tells the story of a team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries hired to defeat General Garza, a rogue army general of a small Latin American country...that does sound pretty familiar doesn't it? Interestingly enough, the court document also provides details of the ways in which Webb sees similarities between his screenplay and the released movie, including the opening "with a hostage rescue at sea, off a foreign coast, which has nothing to do with the main plot." That definitely makes one wonder, and then to top it all off even the main villain in his script is a General Garza, a military dictator with a notorious human rights record.
These are pretty big similarities which could give Webb more validity in court. Stallone isn't new to this type of lawsuit. If you remember in 2003, retired boxer Chuck Wepner, who Stallone even said was the inspiration for his original Rocky movie, sued him for failing to compensate the boxer, nicknamed the Bayonne Bleeder, for his life story. That case was settled out of court in 2006.
“There can be no dispute that Stallone and/or [screenwriter David] Callaham had access to and copied protectable elements of the screenplay,” the lawsuit says. With most studio scripts, there are a ton of writers brought in to add or delete scenes here and there so when there's this many hands in the pot, you don't always know who's put in something less than original. More than likely, a quick quiet out of court settlement will probably occur so as not to hold up 'The Expendables 2' film which is slated for August 17, 2012.
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