A writer claims that the comedy of 2021 “Don’t Look Up” was substantially similar to his novel and he is suing the writer and director Adam McKay already Netflix for copyright infringement.
The author William Collier says that in 2007 he sent his daughter, who worked at Mosaic Media’s Jimmy Miller Entertainment division, an email with the text of his novel “Stanley’s Comet”, so that the company would consider it as material. Collier alleges that his novel had numerous themes and plot points in common with “Do n’t Look Up,” which McKay is said to have written in 2019. Jimmy Miller Entertainment was McKay’s manager at the time and collaborated with him on movies like “Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby”.
The lawsuit was filed Wednesday in the United States District Court, Central District of California. Collier is named plaintiff, while McKay, his production company Hyperobject Industries and Netflix are the defendants.
What the lawsuit against Adam McKay and Netflix says
“The plot of both works is practically identical,” the lawsuit alleges. He goes on to describe the elements that the novel and the screenplay have in common: “Low-level scientists find a large comet that is headed straight for Earth and is going to destroy the Earth and wipe out all of humanity in a matter of time. To convey this message to the public, scientists participate in a morning talk show (undermining the urgency and nature of the issue), which then makes most people not bothered. Even presidents and government leaders downplay the comet’s apocalyptic effect. Eventually, the comet is visible to the citizens of planet Earth and chaos ensues as the comet rapidly approaches.”
After sending the unpublished novel to his daughter, Adrienne Collier Florence (now Metz), Collier self-published “Stanley Comet” in 2013 in the book “In Extremis, Two Novels.”
“Don’t Look Up” was released on Netflix on December 24, 2021. It was later nominated for four Oscars, including best original screenplay. The lawsuit alleges that McKay’s explanation of how he came up with the idea for the story was explained differently in several different interviews, and that his co-writer, David Sirotahad expressed surprise that he was given credit for the story, since his only contribution was a comment about climate change that he had made to McKay, reflecting “that it was like a comet (or an asteroid or a meteor, depending on interview) hurtling toward Earth, but no one seemed to care.”
“McKay credited defendant Sirota as a co-writer, although Sirota apparently did not write a single word or contribute anything to the writing of the script, other than his offhand commentary on climate change,” the lawsuit states.
Collier is seeking a minimum of $5 million in damages.
I am an author and journalist who has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. I currently work as a news editor at a major news website, and my focus is on covering the latest trends in entertainment. I also write occasional pieces for other outlets, and have authored two books about the entertainment industry.