So is this a case of inspiration being a bit too strong on a screenplay or a producer looking to slow down the steam engine of a rival project? We’ll soon find out as Kelly Reichardt‘s upcoming “Night Moves” is facing a lawsuit from Edward R. Pressman Film who are seeking damages and a halt to production and sales claiming the movie rips off novel “The Monkey Wrench Gang” which they are turning into a movie from “Catfish” directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.
To recap, “Night Moves,” which is set to star Jesse Eisenberg, Peter Sarsgaard and Dakota Fanning, revolves around three eco-terrorists plotting to blow up a dam, while ‘Monkey Wrench’ follows four guys trying to stop over-development in the American West in the 1970s. Totally different, right? Well according to the lawsuit, the similiarties are troubling:
By way of example only, both works feature the targeting of a dam for destruction by means of ammonium fertilizer-laden boats. In the Novel, the principal bomb-maker is a beer-guzzling veteran who served overseas as a Green Beret, where he acquired his knowledge of explosives. The bomb-maker in ‘Night Moves’ is a beer-guzzling veteran who served overseas as a U.S. Marine, where he acquired his knowledge of explosives. Both the Novel and ‘Night Moves’ also feature a 20-something woman who starts out as a companion of another member of the group but develops a sexual relationship with the bomb-making veteran, despite his initial objections to her participation in the group’s illegal activities.
The legal documents point toward internet chatter as further evidence that many are seeing similiarities between the two movies, but let’s just take a pause. The similarities above, if accurate, are largely cosmetic and let’s face it, no one is going to mistake a movie made by Reichardt by one helmed by the “Catfish” dudes. We’d reckon that tonally and in pretty much every other manner, the end product between the two will be quite different.
And legally speaking, copyright cases usually carry with them a very high burden of proof. So what does this all mean? It could trip up “Night Moves,” but as for stopping it entirely, it seems like a long shot. But we’ll see how this plays out. For now, shooting is set to begin in October. [THR]