We ask that you steel yourself for the possibility that a recently filed copyright infringement lawsuit could prevent the release of Fox's Deck the Halls, throwing into utter chaos all of your cherished plans to spend the holidays watching Danny DeVito and Matthew Broderick driven to the brink of mutual homicide by their competing desires to erect the most ostentatious Christmas light displays ever conceived. THR ESQ reports that a screenwriter is seeking an injunction against Fox and New Regency, claiming that their forthcoming movie is uncomfortably similar to a screenplay he wrote which both the studio and production company had previously rejected:
The complaint dedicates more than half of its 26-pages to allegations of substantial similarities between Aiello's screenplay and the Fox picture, including plot, theme, mood, specific dialogue, settings, sequences of events and pace.
Among the alleged similarities:
In both works, the center of the idyllic small community's celebration is an annual Christmas lighting competition that the lead character has won several times and the new neighbor competes to win. The antagonist is a new male neighbor across the street, who is competitive and territorial. The protagonist's wife is named "Kelley" in the screenplay and "Kelly" in the film, and the antagonist's wife wears tight-fitting clothes. Among several "cartoonishly violent, comic set-pieces" are scenes of the lead character being hurled into the sky on Santa's sleigh and a small boy mistaking him for Santa; reconnaissance missions by the battling neighbors trying to disrupt the decorating; and astronauts in the International Space Station seeing the extravagant lights from space.
It's hard to determine exactly how "substantial" the alleged similarities are from a (seemingly quite damning) summary such as this one, but we fully expect Fox and New Regency to repel this frivolous threat to their holiday box office prospects by arguing that each of the elements listed above are uncopyrightable ideas that could be independently conceived by any set of unimaginative screenwriters trying to churn out a hacky Christmas comedy.