The most successful movie of all time is not a rip off of a screenwriter’s unmade film and novel, the U.S. District court ruled today. “Bats And Butterflies is a children’s story with a simple protagonist,” said Judge Manuel Real, Monday in Los Angeles. “Avatar is a more complex story about a conflicted protagonist.” The judge went on to add that the two were “not substantially similar” to each other. Back in the beginning of the year, Elijah Schkeiban filed a copyright infringement suit against James Cameron, 20th Century Fox, the director’s Lightstorm Entertainment and production company Dune Entertainment claiming that 2009’s Avatar was based on his novel and subsequent film script. The two sides have been chipping away at it legally ever since with the defendants getting successfully getting two motions to dismiss and Schkeiban amending his complaint.
Though there is at least one other Avatar copyright case still in legal motion, today’s hearing brought most of Schkeiban’s efforts to an end. The ruling from the bench gave no leave for the plaintiff to amend his complaint, effectively ending his case. This latest sequence of events stemmed from the August 31 motion (read it here) the plaintiffs filed to dismiss. “To summarize, Plaintiff has now filed three complaints in this action, all of which fail to provide the necessary factual enhancement. His inability to do so shows that the Court should dismiss his claims without leave to amend,” said the 10-page request to dismiss without leave. Today they got their desired decision. Cameron is scheduled to start work soon on the back-to-back Avatar sequels for Fox with stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana. Zachary Levine, Sarah Wolk and Jessica Trotter of Los Angeles firm Wolk Levine & Trotter LLP represented the plaintiff. James Cameron and the other defendants are represented by Robert Rotstein and Elaine Ki Jin Kim of West LA’s Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.
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