In Universal’s Purge movies, all crime is legal for a 12-hour period once every year, the idea being that citizens can work out all of their worst impulses in one night and then behave better for the rest of the year (though the movies have repeatedly indicated that it’s mostly a scam for the government to thin out the population a bit). It’s a clever and unique premise, but according to a lawsuit, it might not be as clever and unique as Universal may want to believe.
This comes from The Hollywood Reporter, which says original Purge writer/director James DeMonaco is being sued by a guy named Douglas Jordan-Benel for allegedly stealing the idea for the The Purge from a screenplay Jordan-Benel wrote called Settler’s Day. Jordan-Benel says he sent his screenplay—which is presumably about an event called “Settler’s Day” in which all crime is temporarily legal—to various different groups in the entertainment industry before the first Purge came out, and so he thinks he’s entitled to some money now that the Purge series is a big series with a TV spin-off.
Universal has so far failed to get the suit thrown out, so it’s now trying to prove that any similarities between The Purge and Settler’s Day are purely coincidental. Unfortunately for the studio, that defense may have already hit a snag, with Jordan-Benel’s side claiming that some emails that DeMonaco says prove he came up with the idea on his own may have been altered. If that’s true, it could end up being real bad for Universal. This isn’t quite as fun as the Conjuring lawsuit that hinged on whether or not ghosts are real, but there’s a certain poetry to accusing someone of stealing the idea for the movie where crime is legal.