James Cameron's Avatar faces B.C. copyright lawsuit
Emil Malak says the 2009 blockbuster used material from his own screenplay Terra Incognita
A Vancouver restaurateur is suing director James Cameron for alleged copyright violations, claiming the 2009 blockbuster movie Avatar used material from his own original screenplay.
Emil Malak's lawyers were in Federal Court in Vancouver Wednesday morning, asking a judge to grant a trial to allow Malak to proceed with the claim relating to a screenplay he claims he submitted in 2002. He first filed the lawsuit in 2010.
Malak says Cameron used content from his original screenplay titled Terra Incognita, which like Avatar, has the premise of humans who want to mine precious minerals on a planet inhabited by indigenous people who resist colonization.
Avatar tells the story of a disabled U.S. marine sent to distant world Pandora, where a war is brewing between humans trying to mine valuable resource unobtanium, and the native Na'vi, a humanoid race trying to protect their forested land.
The blockbuster won three Oscars and took in more than $2 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation.
In court Wednesday, Cameron's Toronto lawyer Brian Gray accused Malak of chasing a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, calling him "confused" and "deluded."
Gray argues the screenplay Malak says he submitted in 2002 would never have found its way to James Cameron, and even if it had, the director wrote the Avatar screenplay in 1997.
Gray also argues there are no similarities between the screenplays.
Malak, who owns Bellaggio Cafe, says he's determined to take his lawsuit against Cameron, his company Lightstorm Entertainment and 20th Century Fox Film Corp. all the way.
The hearing continues. A ruling on whether the case will go to trial is expected Thursday.
With files from Farrah Merali