View Full Version : Man sues Disney and other companies over Pirates of the Caribbean idea

12-07-06, 13:58
By Natalie Finn

How does one put the brakes on a $654 million juggernaut?

A screenwriter who says that he had pirates on the brain long before
Johnny Depp inserted his first gold tooth is going to try.

Royce Mathew has sued the Walt Disney Co., Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Touchstone Home Video and 24 other related enterprises that had a stake in the 2003 blockbuster Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl for copyright infringement.

In his complaint, available online at TMZ.com, the Florida resident claims that over the last two decades he "created and wrote a number of original works including drawings, screenplays, outlines, blueprints, storyboards, and other original materials which included multimedia works, which he generally entitled SNPM, standing for Supernatural Pirate Movie."

Just a working title, we presume.

He also stated that he eventually filed his drawings, which included sketches of a pirate ship that he named the Black Pearl, as well as a blueprint and screenplay draft for his ghostly pirate caper, with the U.S. Copyright Office. Mathew also says that he created characters called Will Turner and Elizabeth, along with an eccentric pirate captain and a cursed crew.

There was no immediate comment from either Disney or Bruckheimer on the complaint.

Mathew is seeking unspecified monetary damages and an injunction prohibiting the 28 defendants from publicly displaying the movie (i.e. through DVD rentals, online downloading, soundtrack and merchandise sales, network broadcasts, etc.). Curiously, Mathew's suit was filed last Friday, just before the first of two planned sequels, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, blasted the box office wide open, taking in a record $135.6 million and pretty much guaranteeing that this franchise is going to end up in billion-dollar territory.

Per the complaint, Mathew supposedly showed his early sketches and other materials to "a variety of employees and agents" of the named defendants, both privately and through the William Morris Agency and Creative Artists Agency, with the hope that his project would get the go-ahead. Alas, matey, he was told that his idea wouldn't make a "financially rewarding project."

But despite the fact that Disney has been linked with a certain swashbuckling theme park ride called Pirates of the Caribbean since 1968, Mathew felt that The Curse of the Black Pearl pilfered plot lines, event sequencing, characters, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, concept and its overall tone from his Supernatural Pirate Movie. Arrgh.

Although the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court's Central District of California does not mention Dead Man's Chest or the upcoming At World's End, slated for a May 2007 release, it asks the judge to issue an injunction against The Curse of the Black Pearl and "other infringing works."

Could that include the newly refurbished Pirates ride at Disneyland and Disney World, which since June 26 has featured animatronic Captain Jack Sparrow figures and a story line that's more in sync with the hit films?

While fellow codefendants Disneyland International and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts could theoretically be in for a fight, they've got on their side almost 30 years of history and one of the most powerful multimedia companies in the world. We're going to place a bet on the strength of Disney and, well, let it ride.


12-07-06, 14:05
Imagine that once it becomes a big hit someone trys to call it there own...

12-07-06, 14:07
Wow, mad if it was his.. Feel kinda sorry for the guy .
But, it's been made and it's great - so I don't exactly care who invented the idea ;)

12-07-06, 14:12
I'd be surprised if that was true...and if it is he'll have his hands full proving it!

I just saw the second movie tonight at the movies, and loved it :D

12-07-06, 14:22
If his drawings and other materials can be documented and dated to a period before the first movie was in the works then he should have a case. If they ripped him off then they should pay up!

12-07-06, 14:39
He's taken his time to bring this lawsuit, I wonder why?

If as the article says that he registered these materials with the U.S. Copyright Office then he should have a case.

Have to keep an eye on this. It will be interesting to see how one man fares against one of the largest entertainment corporations in the world.

tlr online
12-07-06, 14:41
Ya know. I once had a dream about a ship that sunk. Does that mean I can sue James Cameron for producing Titanic?

12-07-06, 14:41
well why didnt he publish his idea first, he hasnt got any proof and even if he had it wouldnt have made any different, the movie companies obvioulst didnt steal it

12-07-06, 14:47
well why didnt he publish his idea first, he hasnt got any proof and even if he had it wouldnt have made any different, the movie companies obvioulst didnt steal it

Big assumptions there! He wouldn't file a law-suite without something to back his claims up (whether it's enough we'll have to see). And he did say that he pitched his ideas to people affiliated with Disney in the hopes of getting the project worked on. Again, we don't know he's right but we can't assume he's wrong either, just yet. Disney is not above shady dealings...

12-07-06, 14:52
I just wonder why the people involved in such a huge movie at that would be so STUPID to include the exact same name of a ship as well as some character names.

Let's pretend for a moment that the idea actually was stolen, why on earth wouldn't they at least change the names to be a little less blatantly obvious?

12-07-06, 14:56
I dunno, it seems too calculated. :pi: He had characters called exactly Will Turner and Elizabeth? What were the chances of that? Hm, I'm not convinced. :o

12-07-06, 15:25
OOps double post over 26 minutes

12-07-06, 16:04
If this were true, which I doubt, than why didn't he sue when the first movie came out three years ago.

12-07-06, 17:56
Maybe something to do with the new one having the most successful opening in history.

12-07-06, 18:00
Ya know. I once had a dream about a ship that sunk. Does that mean I can sue James Cameron for producing Titanic?

if u call it the SNSS
Supernatural Sinking Ship...

This guy has to be kidding....

13-07-06, 02:28
Ya know. I once had a dream about a ship that sunk. Does that mean I can sue James Cameron for producing Titanic?

Completely different situation. This guy, as the article states, had dozens of intricate creations down to the very character names and traits. Of course, it doesn't mean anything if he didn't patent any of it, but the article says that he did infact file a lot of work in the US copyright office, so it should be legally protected.