You can file this one under “most obvious lawsuit ever”. It seems that someone from the estate of Alfred Hitchcock finally got around to watching the forgettable 2007 Shia LaBeouf thriller Disturbia (I guess they were waiting for it to hit the bargain bins at Blockbuster… understandable), and lo and behold, they came to the realization that the plot of the movie is awfully similar to the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window! Gee, it’s not like the similarities between the two weren’t previously mentioned in, oh I don’t know… EVERY SINGLE REVIEW OF THE MOVIE.
At any rate, who knows what took so long, but now Dreamworks, Viacom and Universal Pictures are all being sued for copyright infringement and breach of contract. The Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust points out that Rear Window was based on Cornell Woolrich’s short story “Murder from a Fixed Viewpoint”, which they bought the rights to. Dreamworks, however, did not pay to use the story.
“What the defendants have been unwilling to do openly, legitimately and legally, (they) have done surreptitiously, by their back-door use of the ‘Rear Window’ story without paying compensation… In the Disturbia film the defendants purposefully employed immaterial variations or transparent rephrasing to produce essentially the same story as the Rear Window story.”
Basically they’re being accused of making an unauthorized remake. I’m sure everyone would agree that they have a valid point here, but I wonder if it will be enough to hold up in court. Depending on how things go, it could potentially redefine the difference between homage and theft. My question is, haven’t there been other movies that riffed off Rear Window as well?