Writer sues Gary Oldman and NBCUniversal claiming Darkest Hour infringed on his script
Gary Oldman and NBCUniversal are being sued by a writer who claims that material from his working scripts about Winston Churchill ended up in the Oscar-winning film Darkest Hour without credit or compensation.
Ben Kaplan, a TV and film writer, filed a complaint in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday alleging trademark infringement, unlawful business practices, breach of implied contract, interference with contractual relations, and financial interference by NBCUniversal and its subsidiaries Focus Features and Working Title; Oldman; his manager Douglas Urbanski; and his agent Jim Osborne. (See a copy of the lawsuit, obtained by Variety.)
Representatives for Oldman and NBCUniversal did not immediately respond to EW's request for comment, and a representative for Focus Features declined to comment.
Kaplan alleges in the complaint that he made three of his working scripts for a film that was to be titled Churchill available to Oldman, who had agreed to play the title role in exchange for $6 million. Before an official contract was endorsed, Kaplan says, Oldman pulled out of the deal for Churchill and signed on for Darkest Hour, with Urbanski receiving a producer credit.
Kaplan affirms that his film was canceled due to Oldman's departure in favor of the Joe Wright-directed drama. Further, he claims an overabundance of similarities between his work and Darkest Hour's story arcs, dialogue, and ending.
Oldman's performance in Darkest Hour earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor in 2018. The film grossed more than$150 million at the worldwide box office.