The Feud: Emil Malak vs. James Cameron

He claimed Cameron ripped off his script to make Avatar, and then asked for $100 million.


The conflict: Malak, a Vancouver café owner, claims Cameron and 20th Century Fox violated copyright by incorporating 45 elements of his sci-fi script, Terra Incognita, into the US$2-billion grossing Avatar. Malak says he sent a copy of his script, which, like the 2009 film, features blue people, mineral mining and a “Life Tree,” to Cameron’s production company in 2002. The studio claims the original treatment for Avatar was written in 1996.

The outcome: Malak gave Cameron a deadline of March 15 to pay him $100 million, after which, he suggested, the price would go up, saying, “I’m not going to accept $100 million.” A lawyer for 20th Century Fox called the case “meritless,” and retained a law firm to defend the case. Malak said he will drop the legal claim if offered solid proof Cameron’s version of Avatar was written before his was.