December 21, 2010 10:59am PT by Matt Belloni
Superman lawyer now targeting Fox's 'Percy Jackson'
Toberoff, currently involved in the smackdown of all smackdowns with Warner Bros. over the Superman franchise, has filed suit in New York on behalf of the authors of young-adult novels about a descendant of Greek gods. They claim in a copyright infringement lawsuit against author Rick Riordan, Fox and Disney that the "Percy Jackson" series of novels and the Fox film "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" steal extensively from two of their books.
Robyn and Tony DiTocco wrote "The Hero Perseus: A Mad Myth Mystery" (2002) and "Atlas' Revenge: Another Mad Myth Mystery" (2004), YA fantasies centered on "PJ," a descendant of Greek gods who becomes a hero. They claim Riordan lifted several key characters and scenes for his five books, the first of which was published in 2005 by Hyperion (a Disney subsidiary). Fox's "Percy Jackson" film was released in January and has grossed $220 million worldwide.
"The substantial similarities between the PJ books and the Percy Jackson books, and consequently between the PJ books and the Percy Jackson film, cannot be explained away by their common reference to Greek mythology because most such similarities do not appear in Greek mythology, but originate instead in plaintiffs' PJ books," the lawsuit states.
The complaint cites at least 100 similarities. A couple examples:
PJ Books: The main character is Percy John Allen, 17 years old, nicknamed "P.J."
The Lightning Thief: The main character is Percy Jackson, 12 years old.
PJ Books: Percy is informed that the world is being threatened by horrific weather arising from the theft of Zeus' thunderbolt, and there will be catastrophic events if it is not returned, as Zeus will be unable to control the weather.
The Lightning Thief: Percy is informed that the world is being threatened by horrific weather arising from the theft of Zeus' thunderbolt, and there will be catastrophic events if it is not returned, as the gods war among themselves.
PJ Books: Percy embarks on a quest to save humanity by solving the mysterious theft and returning Zeus' lightning bolt to him.
The Lightning Thief: Percy embarks on a quest to save humanity by solving the mysterious theft and returning Zeus' lightning bolt to him.
The new lawsuit is for garden-variety copyright infringement, different from the complex copyright termination issues involved in the Superman litigation. Still, Toberoff is cementing his status as the go-to lawyer for suing studios on copyright claims. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction against further distribution of the infringing works.
We've reached out to Fox and Hyperion for comment.UPDATE: A studio spokesperson says no comment.