Sylvester Stallone directed, co-wrote and starred in “The Expendables,” a 2010 action movie that grossed over $100 million in the United States and more than $270 million worldwide. It led to 2012 sequel that earned even more money than the original, and a third “Expendables” film is currently in development.
Corporate speechwriter Marcus Webb, however, alleged that the screenplay for “The Expendables” contained 20 “striking similarities” to his own script, “The Cordoba Caper,” and sued Stallone for copyright infringement. According to the entertainment magazine Movieline, Stallone admits he based his draft on a different script entitled “Barrow.” That screenplay was authored by David Callahan, who was credited as co-writer on the final “Expendables” script. However, Stallone denied ever having seen Webb’s screenplay.
On December 27, 2012, a federal judge reaffirmed his decision to dismiss the copyright infringement lawsuit. “The court has carefully examined the entire litany of plaintiff’s proffered ‘striking similarities’ and finds none of them remotely striking or legally sufficient,” US District Judge Jed Rakoff wrote. “These are two very different screenplays built on a familiar theme: mercenaries taking on a Latin American dictator.”
While Webb claimed that both works had similar plots involving hired mercenaries in a Latin American country that was home to a villain dictator named General Garza, Rakoff wrote that “Garza” was the 34th most common Hispanic nickname in the United States. As Movieline put it, “It also sounds a lot like about 500 other action films.”
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