Writer Claims Makers of “The Purge” Stole His Screenplay

Usually disputes like this are settled on the day of the annual Purge but not this time around.  A writer is suing the makers of The Purge for copyright infringement claiming that Universal Studios, and others, stole the plot of the movie.

The Purge, starring Ethan Hawke, tells the story of a family trying to survive the annual Purge; a night when all crime, including murder, is legal.  The low budget movie went on to gross more than $64 million in the United States.  Just last Friday, the sequel, The Purge: Anarchy, was released and grossed $28.3 million in its opening weekend.  Douglas Jordan-Benel is a screenplay writer who created Settler’s Day in 2011; a story about a family that must withstand the one night a year that killing is legal.  Plaintiff claims that the two screenplays are so similar that it is a “virtual impossibility” that The Purge was independently created.  Among the similarities, plaintiff claims that both scripts feature the protagonist “consuming sweet baked goods,” fathers experiencing heavy traffic of the day of the holiday, and similar action descriptions like “head exploding” versus “bits of brain flying”.

Plaintiff claims that the makers of The Purge got their hands on his script when he shared it with a talent agency that also represents the credited writer of The Purge screenplay. Plaintiff is suing the writer and several movie studios behind the film for copyright infringement.  Plaintiff does not explain why he waited until now to file the lawsuit and does not claim copyright infringement concerning the sequel that was just released.  For his damages, plaintiff seeks to purge the defendants of $5 million.