LOS ANGELES (REUTERS) – A television series developed for Apple by famed director M. Night Shyamalan has been accused of copying a 2013 film, according to a copyright lawsuit filed on Wednesday (Jan 15).
Italian-American director Francesca Gregorini sued Apple and Shyamalan in a Los Angeles federal court, alleging the recently released horror series, Servant, plagiarised her 2013 film The Truth About Emanuel.
Apple declined to comment and a publicist for Shyamalan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Having a very personal labour of love stolen, which is what this case is about, is soul-crushing,” Gregorini said in a press release.
Her lawyer David Erikson said in a statement that the similarities between the two works “are so pervasive and so grounded in my client’s highly creative and uniquely personal artistic choices, that the idea they might have resulted from coincidence is preposterous.”
Shyamalan, known for his film-ending twists, has directed films such as The Sixth Sense (1999), Signs (2002) and The Village (2004). Tony Basgallop, the writer and creator of Servant, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Both Servant and The Truth About Emanuel tell the story of a mother who, grieving the death of her baby, forms an attachment to a realistic doll who she believes to be alive.
In both works, a teenage nanny goes along with the grieving mother and cares for the doll as if it were alive.
Gregorini’s lawsuit alleged that there are also striking similarities between scenes, themes and settings in the two works.
Apple TV+, the iPhone maker’s entry into the crowded streaming TV market, debuted on Nov 1 with four TV series for adults, an episode of Oprah’s Book Club, a nature documentary and three children’s series. Additional programming is being added.
All of the programming is original because, unlike Netflix and Disney+ from Walt Disney, Apple does not have rights to a back catalogue of TV shows and movies.