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Wednesday, 7 November, 2001, 12:26 GMT
'Little guy' sues Spielberg studio
Steven Spielberg
Spielberg was not credited on Small Soldiers
A film-maker is continuing with legal action which claims Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studio stole his idea for Small Soldiers.

Both sides have spoken out for the first time since the lawsuit was filed against Dreamworks, Amblin Entertainment and Universal.

Gregory Grant says Spielberg talked of transforming his short film Ode to GI Joe into a feature, before turning it down.

He says the action comedy made by Dreamworks in which toy soldiers come to life "directly copied several distinctive scenes" from his short film.

Small Soldiers
Small Soldiers tells the story of intelligent and vicious warring toy soldiers
"We see this as a little guy against the big guy case," Mr Grant's lawyer Ira Reiner told trade magazine Variety.

"It is highly unlikely that a jury will conclude anything other than that there was copying here."

But the studios involved all deny lifting the idea.

The attorney representing all three companies, Bert Fields, said the fact that Mr Grant's ex-wife had signed a copyright licence as co-author meant the action would be defeated.

But Mr Grant is aiming to show his ex-wife did not have any creative input in the short film.

According to the legal action, Ode to GI Joe appeared in several film festivals in 1991.

The film also won a student award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Hi-tech battle

Amblin, Spielberg's production company, does not dispute receiving the film but contends Small Soldiers was based on a script by Gavin Scott.

According to Variety, the defendants see Mr Grant's suit as an attempt to claim ownership of the generic theme of toy soldiers coming to life.

The case is not expected to be heard until 2002.

Small Soldiers centres around the son of a toy store owner who tries out some new hi-tech action figures: The Commando Elite and the Gorgonites.

Unfortunately, both sets of toys have been designed with computer chips to move, talk and destroy each other.

A battle ensues, in which the full destructive ability of creative computer chips fighting one another is revealed - with surprising results.

See also:

28 Jun 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg targets web talent
05 May 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg sued over Soldiers film
28 Aug 00 | Entertainment
BBC buys Spielberg war drama
01 Feb 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg's top directing honour
15 Mar 00 | Entertainment
Spielberg to wrap Kubrick project
27 Oct 99 | Entertainment
Spielberg goes online
12 Aug 99 | Entertainment
Spielberg's top military honour
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