Just Sue It

Nic Cage, not to be confused with a student actorOliver Stone, 9/11, a conspiracy theory? Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. The twist this time has nothing to do with who attacked the World Trade Center, but a legal scuffle over two similarly titled films.

Paramount Pictures is suing Chris Moukarbel over his 12-minute version of director Oliver Stone’s upcoming tale of two cops rescued from the rubble of the twin towers. The short film is based on a bootleg copy of the original script, featuring student actors and shot by Moukarbel himself. The studio believes people will confuse this online short with the full-length, $60 million version starring Nicolas Cage.

"Large numbers of people will see the Moukarbel film first for free and determine, based on this poor-quality copy, that they do not want to pay to see the remainder of the WTC Film at a theater when it is released," Paramount's lawsuit said.

"He's free to make any World Trade Center movie he wants to make, but not our movie with our script," said Nancy Kirkpatrick, a Paramount spokeswoman.

While there appears to be no dispute that Moukarbel used the World Trade Center script, it seems extremely unlikely anyone would mistake a student short for the work of Oliver Stone. C’mon, Alexander wasn’t that bad. Moukarbel, who had been hosting the film on his website has removed it and other sites have pulled their links as well.

With $60 million invested and another $40 million earmarked for marketing, there is a lot of money tied up in this film which will take a lot of tickets to make back. So what’s the cost of a lawsuit against a student when it garners hundreds of stories about your upcoming release and countless blog posts (myself included)? Ask the producers of The Da Vinci Code how much negative publicity hurt them…


  1. AnonymousJune 27, 2006

    You know this is just so silly in a lot of ways. The kid stole a script and used copyrighted material. Obviously there should be consequences. argh.

  2. AnonymousJune 30, 2006

    He will get his comupance - his name will become known because of this lawsuit and he will fail upwards. No such thing as bad publicity.