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Adam McKay accused of ripping off 2012 book to create Oscar-nominated film 'Don't Look Up'

Adam McKay, who wrote and directed the 2021 Oscar-nominated satire "Don't Look Up," is being accused of copying elements of a Louisiana writer's 2012 book in the star-studded film's script.

William Collier sued McKay for copyright infringement in a complaint filed Wednesday in California federal court, which was obtained Friday by USA TODAY. McKay and his production company Hyperobject Industries, as well as Bluegrass Films, Netflix and David Sirota (who has a story credit on the film), are also listed as defendants in the complaint.

Collier alleges that "Don't Look Up" is "strikingly similar" to a novel he wrote around 2004, "Stanley's Comet." McKay "intentionally, willfully, and without authorization used and misappropriated the themes, settings, pace, plot, and mood along with many of the same events and characters found in Stanley's Comet," according to Collier's lawsuit.

Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence were among the star-studded cast of 2021's "Don't Look Up."
Cate Blanchett, Tyler Perry, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Lawrence were among the star-studded cast of 2021's "Don't Look Up."

In his complaint, Collier claims that McKay had access to his novel via his manager at the time, Jimmy Miller. In 2007, Collier sent a digital copy of “Stanley’s Comet” to his daughter, who worked for Jimmy Miller Entertainment and submitted the manuscript for consideration. Collier ultimately self-published the story in his 2012 book "In Extremis: Two Novels," which he registered with the U.S. Copyright Office in 2022.

The plots of "Stanley's Comet" and "Don't Look Up" are "practically identical," the lawsuit claims: “Low level scientists find a large comet that is headed straight towards earth and is going to destroy the earth and wipe out all humanity in a matter of time.” The scientists share the news on a morning talk show, but government leaders downplay the seriousness of the situation.

USA TODAY has reached out to representatives for McKay and Netflix for comment.

"Don't Look Up" had a limited theatrical release before it started streaming on Netflix in December 2021.

It was nominated for four Academy Awards and starred Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Timothée Chalamet and Tyler Perry. McKay is an Academy Award-winning screenwriter who has penned scripts for films including "Step Brothers," "The Big Short" and "Vice."

5 craziest moments in 'Don't Look Up: From President Streep to apocalyptic Ariana Grande

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Adam McKay sued for 'Don't Look Up,' accused of copying book