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The Cabin In The Woods Writer Gets a Copyright Scare

Joss Whedon may seem untouchable. He is an incredibly successful man, known for directing the upcoming film The Avengers: Age of Ultron, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly, among many other projects. He is especially well loved by comic book fans. It seems unthinkable that such a creative man would find himself involved in a copyright infringement suit. On April 13, 2015, however, Whedon, along with Lionsgate and Drew Goddard, was hit with a ten million dollar lawsuit over his 2012 movie The Cabin In The Woods.


Peter Gallagher is the author of the 2006 novel The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines. He is alleging that The Cabin In The Woods infringes his copyright, as the two works have multiple similarities. Most strikingly, he alleges, the plot of the novel and movie are the same. The suit itself states “both works display a self-referential awareness of classic horror movie tropes and insert third-party puppeteers to manipulate the characters for the fulfillment of narrative requirements and the enjoyment of others.” Gallagher also claims characters in the movie are very similar to his own, including their names, and that some scenes are almost identical.


So, the very thing that makes The Cabin In The Woods such a fan favorite, its fun take on the classic horror movie, might just be the thing that lands it in hot water. Based on the complaint, it appears the similarities are there. And as for access to Gallagher’s work, he has claimed that after self-publishing his novel in California and making an e-book version free online, he was approached by multiple entertainment industry producers who were interested in his book. While he doesn’t specifically name Lionsgate, or anyone else directly involved in the suit, the claim certainly suggests access.


It will be interesting to see how Whedon responds to this suit, especially now when he is weeks away from The Avengers premiere. Also interesting is the timing of the suit – Gallagher waited three years before filing. Coincidence?


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