Don’t Look Up | Adam McKay being sued for $5m

Don't Look Up
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An author claims that Netflix and writer-director Adam McKay took the plot and tone from his “strikingly similar” 2004 novel, and is suing for $5m in damages.

The 2021 satire Don’t Look Up saw writer-director Adam McKay and his collaborators nominated for four Academy Awards. But according to author William Collier, the story didn’t spring from McKay, but from a novel called Stanley’s Comet, which Collier wrote in 2004 and self-published eight years later.

Collier’s work is also about the discovery of a comet heading towards Earth, and also sees our planet’s population respond apathetically to the incoming threat. In fact, Collier believes that Stanley’s Comet and Don’t Look Up are so “strikingly similar” that the author’s suing McKay, Netflix and other parties involved with the film for a minimum of $5m.

According to Collier’s complaint, a copy of which has been obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, McKay had somehow reviewed the novel sometime around 2007 through a complicated chain of people who all knew each other. Collier’s daughter reportedly worked for a company called Jimmy Miller Entertainment, and a copy of the manuscript eventually ended up with McKay via Miller himself, who at the time was McKay’s manager.

As part of his lawsuit, Collier had a literature professor, David Roman, compare the novel and Don’t Look Up, and concluded in an expert report that, “The movie, like the novel, makes a strong political critique of the media, the government, and the cultural elite by showcasing their shallowness and reliance on popular opinion polls and social media algorithms… McKay’s film is also full of satire and humor and – like Stanley’s Comet – moves toward the absurd. In each case, the irony drives the humor and the social critique and does so in the same style and method.”

Whether Collier will be successful in his case remains to be seen; if there’s one thing that can be said about Netflix and Hollywood filmmakers, it’s that they tend to have expensive lawyers.

Read more: Don’t Look Up review | Netflix’s star-studded end of the year saga

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