'The Purge' targeted in $5 million copyright infringement lawsuit, writer claims idea was stolen

By Daniel S Levine,

When a movie turns into a hit, there’s usually a lawsuit not too far behind. The Purge is now at the center of one, just as the sequel hits theaters. A writer claims that the idea was stolen from an unproduced screenplay he wrote.

The plaintiff in the cast is Douglas Jordan-Benel, who filed the suit in California federal court on Thursday, the same day that The Purge: Anarchy hit theaters. He claims that one of his screenplays, Settler’s Day, is “virtually identical” to The Purge, which starred Ethan Hawke.

“The plot in both works is also virtually identical,” the lawsuit reads, notes The Hollywood Reporter. "A family must withstand a siege of its fortified home on the one night of the year that killing is legal."

Jordan-Benel also noted that there are several other similarities between the two. He lists specific aspects that he wrote in Settler’s Day that are also in The Purge (according to him). The Purge is about a utopia where one day a year, the government allows lawlessness to run rampant. According to Jordan-Benel, Settler’s Day is about the same thing.

Related: 'The Purge: Anarchy' review, starring Frank Grillo

According to TheWrap, Jordan-Benel says that he gave his script to David Kramer and Emerson Davis of United Talent Agency in 2011. UTA, Universal and Purge writer/director James DeMonaco are among the defendants.

Jordan-Benel claims that Davis even told him that he “had a difficult time buying into the premise of Settler's Day.” But then The Purge hit theaters in June 2013 and became a smash hit that earned a sequel.

UCLA film professor Richard Walter is also quoted in the lawsuit as saying, “The similarities between Settler's Day and the Shooting Script are so striking that it is a virtual impossibility that the latter could have been created independently from the former.”

Jordan-Benel is seeking $5 million in damages and a creator’s credit added to the film.

image of Ethan Hawke courtesy of Roger Wong/INFphoto.com



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