UPDATE, 10:12 AM: Tom Cruise’s longtime lawyer wasted little time responding to the $1 billion copyright infringement lawsuit filed against his client, Paramount Pictures, CEO Brad Grey, Skydance and David Ellison, JJ Abrams and others over 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. “Tom Cruise has never stolen anything from anyone. This bizarre lawsuit against 13 people for combined copyright infringement and ‘age discrimination’ will be quickly dismissed by the Court,” Bert Fields said in a statement just sent to Deadline.
PREVIOUS, 8:14 AM: Accusations of stolen screenplay ideas and the lawsuits that follow are pretty standard stuff in Hollywood. Some come from established writers but many come from creditless claimants banging on the gates for big bucks seeking what they say is rightfully theirs. In that vein, Timothy Patrick McLanahan has filed a $1 billion copyright infringement suit (read it here) against Tom Cruise, Paramount Pictures, studio CEO Brad Grey, Skydance Pictures and David Ellison, JJ Abrams and Bryan Burk (who is called Brian Burke in the suit) and their Bad Robot company and more over 2011’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol. Representing himself, McLanahan is alleging that the successful fourth MI pic was based on a script he wrote more than 15 years ago titled Head On. “Upon reviewing and watching the script and movie of Ghost Protocol, I immediately recognized that the scripts for this movie had been illegally written and produced from Head On’s 1998 copyright. Ghost Protocol was released on December 16, 2010 and this lawsuit is being filed within three years of when that movie was released,” he states in the 10-page-plus exhibits federal court filing in California. In the suit, lodged December 20, 2013 and filed on January 13, McLanahan also claims intellectual property theft and age discrimination and basing his damages claim on the more than $694 million the pic has made worldwide and what he says is “were DVD and blu-ray sales of $144,500,000.”
However, there are a couple of problems off the bat with his suit. One: Ghost Protocol premiered in Dubai on December 7, 2011 and was released on December 15, 2011 — not in 2010 as McLanahan states. Also, the plaintiff states that his Head On script went to William Morris who rejected it but “shortly afterwards five top agents from William Morris broke away to form a new agency called ‘Creative Artist Agency’ (CAA) in 1975.” That would be decades before any Head On script was submitted, right? Skipping that for a sec — though it is hard to — McLanahan then states that CAA and Cruise’s former agent Rick Nicita shopped the script all over the world and got it to Cruise’s former production partner (Nicita’s wife) Paula Wagner.
Despite McLanahan’s big-bucks claims, for the record: Andre Nemec and Josh Appelbaum are credited as the screenplay writers on MI 4. Also, for the record, don’t expect this case to go far — it doesn’t add up.