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With just weeks until his box-office victory lap for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon is now facing a lawsuit accusing him of stealing the idea for the 2012 meta-horror movie The Cabin in the Woods.
Whedon produced and co-wrote the script for Cabin with director Drew Goddard, a writer on Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer and a fanboy favorite in his own right, with credits that include Netflix’s Daredevil (and reportedly may soon include Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man projects). Whedon and Goddard are named as defendants, along with Lionsgate and Whedon’s Mutant Enemy production company, in the complaint filed Monday in California federal court.
In the complaint, Peter Gallagher (no, not that Peter Gallagher) claims Whedon and Goddard took the idea for The Cabin in the Woods from his 2006 novel The Little White Trip: A Night In the Pines. He’s suing for copyright infringement and wants $10 million in damages.
Gallagher is basing his claim on the works’ similar premises: Both feature a group of young people terrorized by monsters while staying at a cabin in what is revealed to be (spoiler alert) a horror-film scenario designed by mysterious operators. Read the full complaint.
Gallagher also alleges similarities between the characters’ names and personalities — his book’s blond Julie and shy Dura and the film’s Jules (Anna Hutchison) and Dana (Kristen Connolly), and handsome and scatterbrained men in both works — and certain scenes involving the characters finding strange items in their respective cabins and discovering hidden cameras.
In the complaint, Gallagher describes how he self-published the novel and “began grassroots efforts” to sell it on the Venice Beach boardwalk and on Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade. “[The defendants] currently reside and operate out of Santa Monica, California, a short distance from where the Book was sold,” the lawsuit claims.
Gallagher alleges that he “was contacted by multiple credited entertainment industry producers who expressed interest in the Book,” but he doesn’t specify Lionsgate or Mutant Enemy.
A Lionsgate spokesman declined to comment. The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to representatives for Whedon and Goddard.
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