James Cameron Sued Over 'Avatar'

20th Century Fox

James Cameron was hit with a lawsuit Thursday by a science fiction writer who claims that the director stole his film idea to create the 2009 blockbuster Avatar.

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According to court papers obtained by ET, Eric Ryder worked on his science fiction story with Cameron's production company Lightstorm Entertainment, Inc. (LEI), for about two years. According to the papers, his film was an environmentally-themed 3-D tale surrounding a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous resources, complete with a protagonist ("a corporate spy") who eventually switched sides during the course of the movie.

Ryder also claims that in 1999, he pitched his movie, entitled K.R.Z. 2068, to Cameron's production company along with treatments, visuals representations, character and scene development along with other materials. Ryder claims that he and LEI then forged an implied agreement that LEI wouldn't exploit Ryder's materials unless he was credited and compensated, but after two years, LEI deemed Ryder's KRZ movie unmarketable due to the lack of interest in a environmentally themed science fiction film.

After Avatar's release in 2009, Ryder claims he asked LEI to make good on its promise only to be denied. He claims that LEI responded that Avatar is owned by a list of producers that doesn't include Ryder and that Cameron had crafted a scriptment before LEI was presented with Ryder's KRZ story in 1999. Avatar went on to gross $2.8 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo.