James Wan
James Wan

Inside James Wan’s Malignant Plagiarism Lawsuit Settlement

The Malignant Twist in James Wan’s Copyright Battle

Just when you thought the horror was over, James Wan found himself entangled in a malignant legal battle that took a page straight out of one of his twisted psychological thrillers.

The famed horror maestro behind the Conjuring Universe and recent hit Malignant was slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit by writer Adam Cosco. The claim? That Wan’s 2021 mind-bending flick Malignant was a plagiarized version of Cosco’s unproduced screenplay Little Brother.

The similarities were eerily on point – both scripts featured a protagonist harboring a sinister secret in the form of a parasitic twin absorbed into their body during childhood. This “malignant” twin would occasionally take control, leading to scenes of brutal violence.

Cosco alleged that a Blumhouse executive had slipped Wan a copy of the Little Brother script, which then “inspired” the core premise of Malignant a little too generously. Talk about a real-life horror story for any writer!

However, Wan’s production company Atomic Monster fired back, portraying Cosco’s lawsuit as a desperate attempt to suppress their free speech and creative freedom. The judge initially agreed, stating Cosco couldn’t prove the defendants had ever even laid eyes on his script.

But in a twist as shocking as the ones Wan is famous for, the two parties have now settled the copyright case out of court under undisclosed terms. Cosco originally sought a $150,000 payout for the alleged plagiarism before embracing the shadowy deal.

So while the full truth may forever remain entombed, one can’t help but imagine Wan taking inspiration for his next psychological shocker from this real-life brush with a writer’s malignant grievances!

Was it a legitimate case of a plagiarized plot? Or just an overzealous writer seeing ghosts of their own ideas? The veil of secrecy drawn over the settlement leaves us to ponder the mystery ourselves in delightfully unsettling Wan-nian fashion.


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  1. I am not associated with anyone involved in this matter. Yet it did interest me. I’ve read many of the legal materials on this case. The Court never decided the issue: did defendants steal this story? Rather, the Court said you have a loophole, SLAPP, and we, the Court, are going to let you use it, which is crap. The loophole is for really protecting certain subjects in life through art, not as a way to steal artist work. Rather, defendants claimed “feminist movie,” so it needs to be protected. When you have money, you can often get it “right” by buying it through creative (I say CON) law jobs.
    Not many would watch Malignant and think it related to feminist ideas that are a big public concern and protected via SLAPP.

    Really, art suffers as certain subjects must be protected by SLAPP, but the big fish in Hollywood have so twisted this tool to ensure they can use it in cases that involve plagiarism.

    The COURT stuck to the need for the “smoking gun” concept when law often involves indirect evidence. Are we supposed to believe these events were coincidences:

    The plaintiff submitted materials to Ryan Turek at Blumhouse when Turek was closely working with Wan on M3GAN when Turek reviewed Little Brother. Atomic Monster (Wan’s company) also received the materials. So these people never talk about other projects when working together, listen to them in interviews they are talking about dozens of projects.

    The stories are almost identical.

    All this took place a short time before Wan’s wife decided to do Malignant. Wan’s wife never had submitted, gone through the process most do when trying to get a screenplay into a movie, and she wrote it rather fast.
    Wan’s wife never wrote much, if anything, before Malignant or after getting this idea around the time Plaintiff submitted materials. Wan’s wife didn’t come across as great around the time the movie was released when she was interviewed, asking how she got the idea.

    The attorneys and legal fees were the big winners.

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