‘The Purge’ Taken to Court

Universal's horror movie is currently working its way through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on accusations of plagiarism.

Witney Seiboldby Witney Seibold

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal’s ultra-successful, 2013 low-budget dystopian fantasy The Purge is being taken to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

A screenwriter named Daniel Jordan-Benel has accused Universal, Blumhouse, and The Purge‘s screenwriter James DeMonaco, of stealing the premise for his screenplay Settler’s Day, which was also a film about the one-night legalization of all crimes set in a dystopian future. Jordan-Benet began his case shortly after The Purge was released, and the defendants in the case lost a bid to dismiss the lawsuit last month. It’s moving up in the legal system. 

Check Out: CraveOnline’s Review of ‘The Purge’

Jordan-Benet has a UCLA film professor on his side, citing the similarities between The Purge and Settler’s Day, and he claims that he should at least be compensated for the use of his idea. He signed no contracts, however, and this case exists in a sticky creative property limbo. Often, there is an unspoken contract between hopeful screenwriters and Hollywood studios that credit will be given if an idea is used. But since there’s rarely paperwork in these matters, it’s hard to say who is in the right. 

The studios attempted to have the case thrown own under an obscure statute called the Anti-SLAPP statute, which is designed to cull frivolity from the legal system. Although the Anti-SLAPP statute was already rejected, as it operates under the auspices of free speech, and not matters of money. 

More legal matters as they develop.


 

Witney Seibold is a contributor to the CraveOnline Film Channel, and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. You can follow him on “Twitter” at @WitneySeibold, where he is slowly losing his mind.