Netflix, Adam McKay Sued for Copyright Infringement Over ‘Don’t Look Up’

Netflix, Adam McKay Sued for Copyright Infringement Over ‘Don’t Look Up’
Collier’s novel has many similarities with Don’t Look Up

Introduction

Netflix and Adam McKay are facing a lawsuit from a writer who claims that the 2021 film Don’t Look Up was based on his self-published novel without his permission or credit. William Collier, who wrote Stanley’s Comet in 2012, alleges that he contacted Netflix and McKay in 2019 to pitch his novel as a potential adaptation, but was rejected by both parties. He also says that he was offered no compensation or recognition for his work.

Collier’s lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages and an injunction to stop Netflix and McKay from distributing or streaming Don’t Look Up. He argues that the film is a “derivative work” of his novel, which has the same plot, characters, setting, and theme of an impending comet collision with Earth. He also accuses Netflix and McKay of “willful blindness” to the similarities between their projects.

Don’t Look Up is a satirical comedy that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence as two astronomers who try to warn humanity about the impending doom. The film also features an ensemble cast of Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Mark Rylance, Tyler Perry, Timothée Chalamet, Ron Perlman, Ariana Grande, Kid Cudi, Himesh Patel, Melanie Lynskey, and others. The film was directed by Adam McKay, who is known for his previous films such as The Big Short (2015), Vice (2018), and Step Brothers (2008).

Netflix acquired the distribution rights to Don’t Look Up in February 2020 after Paramount Pictures dropped out of the deal. The film was originally scheduled to be released in theaters on December 10, 2021 by Paramount Pictures before being moved to Netflix on December 24. The film received mixed reviews from critics and audiences alike, with some praising its cast and message while others criticizing its tone and execution.

Collier’s lawsuit comes at a time when Netflix is facing several other legal challenges over its content. In July 2021, Netflix agreed to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice over its alleged failure to report thousands of child sexual abuse images on its platform. In August 2021, Netflix agreed to pay $8 million to settle another lawsuit from former employees who accused the company of fostering a toxic work culture. In September 2021, Netflix agreed to pay $15 million to settle yet another lawsuit from former employees who claimed they were discriminated against based on their gender identity.

Netflix has not commented on Collier’s lawsuit yet but has stated that it respects intellectual property rights and strives to be fair and transparent with its content partners. McKay has also not commented on the lawsuit yet but has previously defended his creative process as being inspired by various sources and influences.

Collier’s novel has many similarities with Don’t Look Up

Collier wrote his novel in 2012 and self-published it online. He describes his novel as a “science fiction comedy” that follows the adventures of two astronomers who discover a comet that will destroy Earth in six months. The comet, named Stanley’s Comet after the author’s grandfather, is on a collision course with the planet and will cause massive earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and climate change. The astronomers try to warn the world leaders and the public about the impending doom, but they face ridicule, denial, and apathy from everyone.

Collier’s novel has many similarities with Don’t Look Up, both in terms of plot and characters. The premise of both stories is that a comet will wipe out humanity unless someone takes action to stop it. The main characters are also astronomers who have to deal with the challenges of communicating their discovery to others. The dialogue and the humor are also comparable in tone and style.

Collier claims that he contacted Netflix and McKay in 2019 to pitch his novel as a potential adaptation. He says that he sent them an email with a synopsis and some sample chapters of his book. He also says that he followed up with them several times by phone and email, but he never received any response or feedback from them. He says that he was rejected by both parties and offered no compensation or recognition for his work.

Collier filed a lawsuit against Netflix and McKay in December 2023, alleging copyright infringement and seeking $10 million in damages. He argues that his novel is original and creative, while Don’t Look Up is derivative and unoriginal. He also accuses Netflix and McKay of “willful blindness” to the similarities between their projects.

Netflix has not commented on Collier’s lawsuit yet but has stated that it respects intellectual property rights and strives to be fair and transparent with its content partners. McKay has also not commented on the lawsuit yet but has previously defended his creative process as being inspired by various sources and influences.

Summary

In summary, Netflix and Adam McKay are being sued by William Collier, a writer who claims that they copied his novel Stanley’s Comet for their film Don’t Look Up. Collier says that he wrote his novel in 2012 and self-published it online, and that he contacted Netflix and McKay in 2019 to pitch his novel as a potential adaptation, but was rejected by both parties. He also says that he was offered no compensation or recognition for his work. He is seeking $10 million in damages and an injunction to stop Netflix and McKay from distributing or streaming Don’t Look Up.

This case is significant and controversial for several reasons. First, it raises the question of how original and creative a film can be when it is based on a similar premise or idea as another work. Second, it challenges the reputation and credibility of Netflix and McKay, who are both known for their successful and acclaimed projects. Third, it exposes the difficulties and risks of adapting or producing content in a competitive and crowded market.

What will happen next in this lawsuit? Will Collier be able to prove his allegations and win his case? Will Netflix and McKay be able to defend their film and avoid paying damages? Will Don’t Look Up continue to be a hit or suffer a backlash from the public? These are some of the questions that will be answered in the coming months as the legal battle unfolds. Stay tuned for more updates on this story.

Written by Vikram

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