With TIFF winding to a close and the internet having been abuzz over the past week with reviews and acquisition news, one of the more interesting stories to come out of the festival concerns a film that wasn’t even on the schedule. The Kelly Riechardt-directed (and written) eco-terrorism thriller Night Moves – which has Jesse Eisenberg, Dakota Fanning and Peter Sarsgaard lined up to star and was being shopped around at the fest for foreign buyers – has found itself served with a lawsuit over copyright infringement by Edward R. Pressman Film. Their claim? Night Moves is a “blatant rip-off” of the 1975 Edward Abby novel The Monkey Wrench Gang, which centers around three people who set out to blow up a hydro-electric dam. It’s a novel, naturally, that Pressman Film already has the rights to and which they’re setting up to be adapted by Catfish duo Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman. The lawsuit states:
“By way of example only, both works feature the targeting of a dam for destruction by means of ammonium fertilizer-laden boats. In the Novel, the principal bomb-maker is a beer-guzzling veteran who served overseas as a Green Beret, where he acquired his knowledge of explosives. The bomb-maker in ‘Night Moves’ is a beer-guzzling veteran who served overseas as a U.S. Marine, where he acquired his knowledge of explosives. Both the Novel and ‘Night Moves’ also feature a 20-something woman who starts out as a companion of another member of the group but develops a sexual relationship with the bomb-making veteran, despite his initial objections to her participation in the group’s illegal activities.”
On the surface that seems to be some pretty damning evidence. The suit goes on to say that “internet chatter” has already bubbled up about the connection between the novel and Reichardt’s film. The two most interesting things about this are that Night Moves has yet to shoot even a single frame – which means the plaintiffs obviously aren’t seeking any compensatory damages as no money’s been made from the movie yet – and the suit targets not only the director, production company and executive producers but also zeroes in on naming sales agents, in an effort to – as THR puts it – shut it down completely, demanding that preliminary and permanent injunctive relief be awarded so that no film based on the Night Moves screenplay be produced, sold or distributed.
So there ya have it. A lot of people loved Meek’s Cutoff and have been waiting for Reichardt’s follow-up, but it looks like they may very well have to wait just a little longer. We’ll keep you updated!