James Wan, Atomic Monster Settle ‘Malignant’ Copyright Lawsuit

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James Wan‘s Atomic Monster has settled a copyright and breach of contract lawsuit from a writer who accused the prolific horror movie producer of ripping off his screenplay to make Malignant.

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Adam Cosco on Sunday moved to dismiss the case after reaching a deal to resolve the lawsuit. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Cosco, a writer and director on several short films, sued in 2022, claiming that his screenplay for Little Brother was plagiarized. He alleged that Wan, who wrote and directed Malignant, got his work through Ryan Turek, vice president of feature film development at Blumhouse who has collaborated with the horror director on projects.

According to the complaint, both screenplays feature a twist that the protagonist has her twin brother absorbed inside her in the form of a malignant tumor, an inciting incident where the main female character is a victim of violence at the hands of a man that allows the twin to take over her body and scenes of hypnotherapy in which the protagonist recalls repressed memories from childhood, among other things.

The settlement comes after the judge overseeing the case sided with Atomic Monster that the lawsuit is aimed at suppressing its free speech. It argued, citing a California statute allowing for the early dismissal of suits intended to chill First Amendment rights, that the making of Malignant was in connection with public issues relating to feminism and female autonomy. The company also stressed that the movie was inspired by prior horror works involving evil twins.

In the ruling, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Jay Ford noted that Cosco failed to establish that defendants “ever had access to his script, or any facts that would support” a breach of implied contract claim. Wan has denied ever receiving or reading Cosco’s screenplay.

The complaint, which also named Ingrid Bisu, brought claims for a violation of a state copyright law, breach of implied contract, and restitution. He sought at least $150,000, plus punitive damages.

Wan did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Cosco, who’s been vocal about alleged similarities in the works, declined to comment.

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