Thursday, September 27, 2012

"They stole my idea!"

It feels like at least once a month there's a story about a production company or a studio behind a major hit film being sued by someone claiming "They stole my idea!"  Case in point, just last week, a lawsuit against the makers of Avatar was thrown out.

The thing is that truly unique ideas are rare, and even then it's possible for multiple people to come up with the same "totally original" premise, especially if the idea is a reaction to something floating out in the ether.

Case in point, on June 21, I sent the following tweet: "Trying to get a meeting on the sequel, JOHN WILKES BOOTH: VAMPIRE-HUNTER HUNTER."*

Almost three months later, on September 17, comedian Patton Oswalt sent this tweet.

So did he rip me off?  Of course not.  We both were riffing on the same idea and we independently arrived at the same basic punchline.

I truly believe that this is what happens in 90% of the "they stole my idea!"cases.  So don't take all these plagiarism suits as any kind of evidence that Hollywood is determined to steal your ideas.

*Yes, I'm aware that it would have been more grammatically correct to say "VAMPIRE HUNTER-HUNTER."  I realized that almost immediately after sending the tweet, but got so many RTs immediately that I opted to just let it ride.


  1. There have been all kinds of ideas floating around in my head that later showed up in movies or TV. I've seen my concepts for movies or TV shows and even individual jokes come to life on screen. This just goes to prove your point further since most of these have never even been written down anywhere or mentioned to anyone.

    I like when it happens since it kind of reinforces my instincts.

  2. Yep, I wrote a book (well it was like 7 pages and 4 lines of writing per page) when I was 6 years old.

    The storyline was about a boy who found an archeoperytyx in a block of ice then took it home and thawed it out in front of the freezer... then boom Pet dinosaur bird thing.

    Encino man and Jurassic Park were released about a decade later.

    I doubt that hollywood had access to my 6 year old childs handwriting book but heh at least I know that I've had the right movie instincts for quite a while now.

  3. What's great about your link to Oswald's twitter is the tweet directly below, believing it.