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From the "About Time" Files: Dreamworks Sued for Ripping Off 'Rear Window'


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*I for one hated the film _Disturbia_ (2007), & thought it was 1 of the most disappointing films of 2007. The ending was so laughable, it took alot to get through it, trust me. Well, I wonder why it took so long for his happen, but I knew it was bound to!*

 

*So I thought I would pass it along!*

 

 

 

By Christopher Campbell Sep 8th 2008 //

 

The basic plot of Alfred Hitchcock's _Rear Window_ -- man believes he witnessed a murder, has to prove it really happened -- has been reused for so many films and TV shows that it's not that surprising when another homage or ripoff comes around. Yet last year's _Disturbia_, starring Shia LaBeouf as a guy under house arrest who thinks his neighbor is a serial killer, bore close enough resemblance to be labeled an update on Hitchcock's film. And now, not surprisingly, the film's executive producer, Steven Spielberg, along with Dreamworks, its parent company Viacom and Universal Pictures, is being sued for creating an unauthorized remake.

 

*The defendant in the case is not exactly related to Hitchcock's film, though; the lawsuit was filed by Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, which owns the rights to Cornell Woolrich's original short story "_It Had to Be Murder_" (called "_Murder from a Fixed Viewpoint_" in the article), upon which Rear Window is based. Film business followers may remember the name Sheldon Abend from the important Supreme Court copyright case of 1990, Stewart v. Abend, in which Abend sued James Stewart and the production company Patron Inc. after Rear Window was aired on television.*

 

If you've seen both Disturbia and Rear Window do you think the case is valid? Is Disturbia really that much more of a ripoff than Manhattan Murder Mystery, Head Over Heels and most of Brian DePalma's early career? Even Antonioni's Blow Up and Coppola's The Conversation are fairly similar in concept. Obviously some works, such as the Simpsons episode in which Bart thinks Flanders murdered his wife, are okay because they fall under the permissions of parody.

 

And, more importantly, how will this suit affect Spielberg, Dreamworks and LaBeouf's upcoming _Eagle Eye_, which like _Disturbia_ is also directed by D.J. Caruso, and which has similarly been compared to a Hitchcock film, specifically _North by Northwest_ or broadly the whole of Hitch's wrong man films? I wonder who claims credit for that widely used plot.

 

 

*.................................................................................*

 

*Spielberg ripped off Hitchcock classic: lawsuit*

 

Tue Sep 9, 2008

 

By Edith Honan

 

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Steven Spielberg and major Hollywood studios stole the plot from Alfred Hitchcock's classic 1954 film "Rear Window" in making last year's "Disturbia," a lawsuit filed in Manhattan federal court on Monday said.

 

Dreamworks, its parent company Viacom Inc, and Universal Pictures, a unit of General Electric Co's NBC Universal, are accused of copyright infringement and breach of contract for making "Disturbia" without first obtaining permission from the copyright holders, the suit said.

 

Spielberg, a Dreamworks founder, is named as a defendant. The film grossed about $80 million at the U.S. box office.

 

According to the lawsuit, filed by the Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust, the basis for Hitchcock's 1954 film was "Murder from a Fixed Viewpoint," a short story by Cornell Woolrich.

 

Hitchcock and actor James Stewart obtained the motion picture rights to the story in 1953. The lawsuit argues that Dreamworks should have done the same.

 

"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," the lawsuit said.

 

A spokesman for Spielberg declined to comment. Representatives of Viacom and NBC Universal were not immediately available for comment.

 

According to the lawsuit, "_Disturbia_" and the "_Rear Window_" story are "essentially the same." Both are murder mysteries beginning with a man who, while peering from his window, witnesses strange behavior in the home of his neighbor.

 

The protagonist in all three of the works behaves in essentially the same way, interacts with similar characters and the plot unfolds in basically the same way, the lawsuit said.

 

"In the Disturbia film the defendants purposefully employed immaterial variations or transparent rephrasing to produce essentially the same story as the Rear Window story," the lawsuit said.

 

*In reviewing "_Disturbia_," the New York Times called it "a kind of adolescent _'Rear Window_.'" The Toronto Star newspaper called it "a rip off with wit."*

 

 

dist.jpg

 

 

Rearwi-851.jpg

 

 

*Hmmmmmmmmm the posters LQQk the same!!!!???!*

 

 

*_Wikipedia States:_*

 

 

*_Disturbia_ is a 2007 thriller film directed by D.J. Caruso and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. It is an updated version of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film _Rear Window_ (1954). Disturbia stars Shia LaBeouf as a teenager who thinks he witnesses a murder while spying on his suspicious neighbor while being placed under house arrest.*

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YES! Finally! Now I can sleep in peace...LOL!

 

 

I actually have a funny story concerning this. I was at camp last year and was talking to this girl who is a friend of mine about Hitchcock movies. This other girl said, "Alfred Hitchcock movies are SO boring! My mom was watching one like a month ago and I walked by and it looked SO stupid!" I just kinda gave her a blank stare. (LOL!) There is absolutely no use arguing with someone like that! Later that same day she was talking about how *"Disturbia"* was SO amazing and her favorite movie. I said, "Well, you know that it is an exact copy of Alfred Hitchcock's *"Rear Window"* , right?" And she said, "Well...um...I don't care...It is WAY better! Because Alfred Hitchcock is boring!" It took every ounce of me to keep from laughing hysterically! That was how stupid she sounded! But I didn't say anything, I just kinda stood there with a slight smile on my face. It is sad though that my generation thinks that cheap rip-offs are better than the "BORING" originals!

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I saw _Disturbia_ (2007) at an advance screening, & thank God I didn't pay to see it.

So anyways, my partner and I went, & we just laughed through most of the film, & at other moments, I was like look wasn't that part in "Rear Window" etc.! I thought _Disturbia_ (2007) was 1 of the worst and most Over-Rated films of 2007.

I also really don't think Shia LaBeouf is much of an actor. But today's generation are like things are cardboard!

 

 

I think that is why I was so grateful for my mother; because as far back as I can remember I was always watching films with her. I think the 1st time I watched "The Birds" I was 6 or 7, & it scared the crap out of me. LOL!. My mother loved Alfred Hitchcock. I remember spending an entire week watching nothing about Alfred Hitchcock films with her. Her fav was either "_Rear Window_" Or "_The Man Who Knew Too Much_" W./Doris Day!

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I found much to like about *Disturbia*. Considering how many truly awful films there are, today, I'm surprised to find someone with that much hatred for a fairly innocuous bit of entertainment. It wasn't the first time that someone reworked *Rear Window*. There is a television film from the 1970s called *Nightmare*, with Patty Duke and Richard Crenna, that borrowed from it, as well. I also like that film.

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I Re-Rented _Disturbia_ last night (09/14/08) since my Partner didn't see it when it came to theater. I went with a friend instead, I always told him "You were never missing anything by skipping this film!". (He had no interest, but now with the lawsuit he was interested!).

My Partner did like the film, he just found the ending went a "tad"over the top towards the last 30 minutes of the film when _Disturbia's_ initial pacing and action morphs into a "run-of-the-mill slasher/horror film.

 

As I re-watched it, I still saw the echoes of _Rear Window_ through out. _Disturbia_ was just a "Re-Working" of _Rear Window_ for the You Tube Generation! It could have been a Lifetime TV Movie of the week!

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LOL!! Somehow my entire comment didn't get posted! _Cinderella_ & _Rear Window_ are 2 seperate things! I don't believe anyone has a copyright on Cinderella s since Cinderella has been known to exist since the Greek times. Cinderella has been books, plays, operas etc,

 

Ok, back to _Rear Window_, Yes the concept or the idea of someone thinking they saw a muder & nobody believes them may have been used in other films or Tv, but from my research, there hasn't been almost complete rip-off of the theme to Rear Window as _Disturbia_ (2007).

 

I mean every critic and anybody who has seen _Rear Window_ then looks at _Disturbia_ will see almost the same film, but set in a differnt era etc.

 

 

According to the lawsuit, "_Disturbia_" and the "_Rear Window_" story are "essentially the same." Both are murder mysteries beginning with a man who, while peering from his window, witnesses strange behavior in the home of his neighbor.

 

The protagonist in all three of the works behaves in essentially the same way, interacts with similar characters and the plot unfolds in basically the same way, the lawsuit said.

 

*The problem is that both _Rear Window_ and _Disturbia_ are based on the short story "Murder _from a Fixed Viewpoint_" and Hitchcock went out and acquired the rights to the story and Disturbia did not.*

 

 

-----------------------

 

*__'Disturbia_' is a ripoff of '_Rear Window_,' lawsuit claims_*

 

Los Angeles Times, CA - Sep 10, 2008

 

 

When the sleeper hit "_Disturbia_" hit theaters last year, every major movie review of it mentioned the Alfred Hitchcock classic "_Rear Window_" and with good reason: The makers of "Disturbia" clearly delighted in paying homage to 1954 thriller with their plot and plenty of little touches.

 

But when exactly does winking homage turn into cinematic thievery?

 

Attorneys for the estate of the late Sheldon Abend (one of the true characters in Hollywood; more on him in a moment) filed a copyright infringement lawsuit on Monday in Manhattan. The suit names Dreamworks, Paramount Pictures, executive producer Steven Spielberg and others involved in the making of "Disturbia" and claims they essentially made a remake of "Rear Window" without bothering to pay for the rights to the source material. (Here's a bare-bones Associated Press story on the suit, and a meatier Reuters article.)

 

You can't watch "Disturbia" and not think of "Rear Window": Both present a confined voyeurs (one by injury, one by house-arrest electronic cuff) who spy on their neighbors by staring down through their windows. One neighbor, it turns out, may be a murderer, but can the voyeur prove it and also keep a distance from the danger?

 

The sublime 1954 film, which starred Jimmy Stewart, Grace Kelly and Raymond Burr, was based on "It Had to Be Murder," a short story by Cornell Woolrich from 1942. Woolrich died in 1968 and the rights to the story were bought by Abend.

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My posts have nothing to do with the copyright issue. I was addressing the use of the same basic material. My example of *Cinderella*, was to highlight just how often that type of story is told. Everything from direct remakes of the actual story, to *My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman* and *The Princess Diaries*. I would say the film *Nightmare*, is equally as derivative of *Rear Window* as *Disturbia*.

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