• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest
JUN
25
2 YEARS

Sylvester Stallone Defeats Lawsuit Claiming 'The Expendables' Was Ripped Off

A judge grants the writer-director's motion to dismiss allegations he stole a copyrighted script to craft his 2010 action film.

NU IMAGE TOP 10: "The Expendables" (2010)
Lionsgate/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Sylvester Stallone has delivered a knockout punch to an author who claimed to be the real writer behind The Expendables.

Marcus Webb sued Stallone last October and claimed that the 2010 film was "strikingly similar" to his own copyrighted work, from the opening sequence to the plot to the character of the villain.

But a judge has ruled his claims to be expandable, tossing the lawsuit on summary judgment on Monday. 

Webb's own script was called The Cordoba Caper about "a team of elite, highly-trained mercenaries" and the author said that Stallone and co-writer David Callaham may have had access since it was shopped around Hollywood for several years late last decade.

Stallone denied the charges.

In a motion to dismiss, Stallone's lawyers pointed out that Webb wrote his script after Callaham had already written three drafts of the screenplay and that Webb had no information that Stallone or Callaham had ever seen Cordoba.

The judge was also urged to grant a motion to dismiss because the alleged similarities were merely ideas and that the overall concept and feel of the two works was vastly different. The Expendables is classic action, wrote Tom Ferber and James Janowitz at Pryor Cashman , while Webb's script was a complex caper.

Judge Jed Rakoff apparently agrees the claims are meritless.  On Monday, he wrote a short order that grants defendants' motion "in all respects," promising a fuller written opinion soon.

PHOTOS: '80s Action Stars: Where Are They Now?

Millennium Films, Nu Image Films and Lions Gate were co-defendants in the case.

According to court papers, Callaham developed the script for Warner Bros. before Stallone saw it, got Nu Image to acquire it. Once in Stallone's hands, the script dropped subplots, characters, and scenes so as to be as action-oriented as possible and had characters renamed to be Paine, General Garza, and Lee Christmas so as to be memorable. The film starred Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.