The Billion-Dollar Myth – latimes — The ‘Matrix’ movies portray a frightening alternate reality. When a writer sued the movies’ creators for stealing her ideas, she inadvertently exposed another reality–a racial one–that’s no less troubling. By Kemp Powers
July 31, 2005|Kemp Powers is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles.
Sophia Stewart didn’t attend her June 13 hearing at the U.S. federal court building in downtown Los Angeles. She saw the proceeding as a minor hurdle on the way to an anticipated July 12 trial in her copyright infringement suit against directors Andy and Larry Wachowski, James Cameron and other defendants–a trial she imagined would be “one of the largest suits for damages in the history of the film industry.”
Her lawsuit claimed that the lucrative “Matrix” and “Terminator” film franchises were based on her ideas. Last month’s request by the defendants to dismiss the case was an act of desperation, Stewart believed, because her proof of theft was indisputable. Stewart had attracted many supporters (mostly African American, who agreed that Hollywood had ripped her off) and detractors who question both the validity of her claims and her sanity ever since she began trying to rally support for her case in 2003. She claimed that she would have “big surprises” for the judge and jury, as well as for all of the naysayers, when her case finally went to trial.
Unfortunately, Judge Margaret Morrow wasn’t interested in surprises. In her 53-page ruling, Morrow dismissed Stewart’s case, noting that Stewart and her attorneys had not entered any evidence to bolster the key claims in her suit or demonstrated any striking similarity between her work and the accused directors’ films. Stewart says she is hiring additional attorneys and is asking the court to reconsider that decision, but earlier this summer, in a nearly empty courtroom 790 of the Roybal Federal Building, Stewart’s case apparently ended with a whimper.