“There is no merit to this lawsuit,” said Warner Bros today in response to a copyright infringement lawsuit over a potential big screen Gilligan’s Island reboot. “Not only does the plaintiff have no rights in an unauthorized work based on the Gilligan property, the project he’s suing over never went forward.” The plaintiff in question is Travis Dunson, who hit the studio with a multi-claim complaint in federal court in Georgia earlier this week (read it here).
The seemingly creditless Dunson is alleging that WB lifted elements of his 1999 script Gilligan’s Island: 7 Stranded Castaways From The Hood for an adaption of the classic 60s CBS TV series. WB announced last December that they would be making a new Gilligan’s Island with Josh Gad. In his lawsuit, Dunson wants the new Gilligan shut down and he wants wide ranging unspecified damages – though it is unclear if it is the Gad, Benji Samit and Dan Hernandez written project he’s aiming to blow out of the water or another previously floated GI pic.
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Nonetheless, to back up his claims, Dunson lays out in the jury-seeking filing how his script based on the Sherwood Schwartz created show made its way to WB. In 2008, Dunson claims his agents got the screenplay to Warner Music SVP Doug Frank. The exec, according to the filing, reportedly “loved it.” Alas, despite the love, nothing came of that for the WGA and Copyright Office registered script. Dunson then says he heard in 2010 that GI rights holders the Schwartz family were working on a remake of the classic television series.” Then he says in 2011 learned that WB was involved with a new GI pic set to come out in 2012.
“Plaintiff immediately reviewed the content of the Warner Bros. website and determined that the film that had been produced was substantially similar, if not identical, to his copyright-protected Screenplay with regard to aspects of the expression that are protectable by copyright,” says the 16-page filing. Unfortunately for fans of Gilligan’s Island or these types of suits, Dunson provides no specific details about how the WB pic infringed his script. He also doesn’t explain how or even if he has any rights to the original property. The other thing too is it is murky if Dunson views the unmade 2011 project to be the same as the Gad starring pic currently in development. All of which should make this fairly easy for WB to swat aside in the courts.
Dunson does name Time Warner Co., Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., Warner Bros. Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, Inc., Doug Frank, Brad Copeland, and Lloyd J. Schwartz as defendants. He is represented by Eric Register of Atlanta’s Register | Lett LLP
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