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In a surprising turn of events, Apple TV+ finds itself entangled in a legal battle following the premiere of its highly anticipated “Tetris” movie starring Taron Egerton in March. While the film has garnered praise for its portrayal of the true story behind the iconic puzzle game’s journey to the United States, a cloud of controversy looms as a new lawsuit alleges plagiarism and unfair business practices.
The lawsuit, filed by Dan Ackerman and reported by Reuters, names Apple, screenwriter Noah Pink, Marv Studios, the Tetris Company, and others as defendants. Ackerman asserts that the “Tetris” movie bears striking resemblances to his 2016 book “The Tetris Effect,” and accuses the defendants of copying his work without his knowledge or authorization.
Ackerman’s book took a unique approach to chronicling the history of Tetris, weaving historical facts with original research to craft a narrative non-fiction piece reminiscent of a Cold War spy thriller. The lawsuit contends that the movie mirrors this approach, mirroring scenes, tone, and even specific chapters from Ackerman’s book.
The legal filing provides details of Ackerman’s alleged interactions with the Tetris Company, claiming that he shared a pre-release copy of his book with them in 2016. The suit states that Maya Rogers, CEO of the Tetris Company, instructed her team not to license Tetris intellectual property for any film or TV projects. Further, the Tetris Company is accused of sending a cease and desist letter to Ackerman’s agent, effectively squashing his attempts to explore licensing options for his book.
The lawsuit implies that the Tetris Company later embarked on its own film project, drawing inspiration from Ackerman’s work for their screenplay. Ackerman contends that the screenplay, developed by Noah Pink, was heavily derived from his book, even though Pink presented it as an original creation.
The legal battle took a public turn when the “Tetris” movie trailer debuted in March 2023. Ackerman claims that he immediately recognized substantial similarities between the movie and his book, prompting him to issue a cease and desist letter to halt the movie’s release until legal matters were resolved. Despite this, Apple proceeded to release the movie on its streaming platform, Apple TV+.
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The “Tetris” movie, despite the controversy, has achieved both critical acclaim and viewer popularity. With an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film has proven its entertainment value. Third-party data has also revealed that the movie ranked among the top 10 most-streamed TV shows and movies in the week following its release.
Through the lawsuit, Ackerman seeks compensation, including actual and compensatory damages equivalent to 3% of the film’s total production budget, along with punitive damages of the same amount. The lawsuit also calls for the court to award prejudgment and post-judgment interest in accordance with the law.