Is it possible two people could have had the same idea for what would eventually become a box-office-busting film franchise? Not according to James Davis.
The Montgomery, Alabama, filmmaker filed a lawsuit against O’Shea Jackson — better known as rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube — and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures on Wednesday, alleging breach of contract and copyright infringement. The suit claims that the entire premise behind 2002′s “Barbershop” — the hit comedy about a day in the life of a barbershop on Chicago’s South Side — was lifted from a script he’d written years before the Cube flick made its way to the big screen.
According to court records, Davis’ script, called “The Shop,” was based on the time he’d spent at a barbershop in Atlanta; he claims to hold a copyright on the screenplay, and is seeking $100 million in damages. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, additionally lists State Street Pictures, Cube’s Cube Vision Production, and the film’s writers and producers as defendants.
“Barbershop,” which also starred Eve and Cedric the Entertainer, grossed an estimated $77 million worldwide and spawned two sequels: 2004′s “Barbershop 2: Back in Business” and this year’s “Beauty Shop,” starring Queen Latifah, Kevin Bacon, Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari. Those two films took in a collective $102 million in estimated global box-office receipts. The movies have also inspired a TV series, Showtime’s “Barbershop.”
Eric Goodman, a California copyright attorney, told The Associated Press that it was doubtful that MGM would have willfully engaged in copyright infringement, and added that Davis would have a tough time proving in court that the scribes behind the “Barbershop” screenplay obtained a copy of his script and drew from it for their own treatment.
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