Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard are out of the woods.
A $10 million copyright lawsuit claiming that writer-producer Whedon and writer-director Goddard took the the idea for their meta-horror-comedy The Cabin in the Woods from Peter Gallagher’s book The Little White Trip: A Night in the Pines has been thrown out.
In court papers filed in April, Gallagher (not to be confused with the actor from The O.C.) alleged that Cabin bore “striking” similarities to his self-published book, including the plot, mood, pace, sequence of events, and names of the lead characters. Whedon’s production company, Mutant Enemy, and Lionsgate, the film’s distributor, were also named in the suit.
On Friday, however, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright II granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, writing, “While the two works share a common premise of students travelling to remote locations and subsequently being murdered, real or otherwise, that premise is unprotectable. The concept of young people venturing off to such locations and being murdered by some evil force is common in horror films.”
The judge added that “The works may both have a core theme of horror, but Cabin‘s core of horror is spliced with heavy amounts of comedy and parody. Indeed, the way each work plays out is drastically different than the other, as is the way they develop their core themes and how they provide commentary.”
Released in 2012, Cabin is a self-aware scarer about a group of archteypal teens who head out for a weekend vacation and get more than they bargained for. The film grossed $42 million at the domestic box office, on a $30 million budget.
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