James Cameron’s 3D epic sci-fi fantasy Avatar earned over $2 billion at the box office, and a handful of underdog screenwriters have claimed plagiarism against the director in the years since. In addition to developing Avatar sequels, Cameron has spent the past several years answering these lawsuits, and won another big one on Tuesday.
A US District court judge honored Cameron’s motion for summary judgment against artist Gerald Morawski, dismissing the case on Tuesday. Judge Margaret Morrow said that clear, undisputed evidence shows Cameron independently created ‘Avatar’ and did not use Morawski’s ideas.”
Morawski claimed that he sold concept art for a film to be adapted from a William Gibson short story about 20 years ago, and that he first gave Cameron the idea for a film about an indigenous tribe fighting off a greedy corporate mining outfit, reports MSN.
Cameron detailed the process behind the creation of Avatar in a 45-page declaration. He said that he’d been working on the general story since high school, and even used prototypes of various characters in earlier films. He cited Giovanni Ribisi’s mining executive from Avatar, comparing him to Paul Reiser’s villainous Burke from Aliens.
“It is a sad reality of our business that whenever there is a successful film, people come out of the woodwork claiming that their ideas were used,” Cameron said in a statement. “‘Avatar’ was my most personal film, drawing upon themes and concepts that I had been exploring for decades. I am grateful that the Court saw through the blatant falsity of Mr. Morawski’s claim.”
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cameron has been sued at least three times over Avatar. The most recent was filed in 2011 by Eric Ryder, a former employee of Cameron’s, who claims that Avatar was based on a script he had written for a film called K.R.Z. 2068.