Did Steven Spielberg rip off the idea for "Disturbia" from Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window?"
In the lawsuit filed Monday in New York, the estate of the current owner of the short story originally written by Cornell Woolrich in 1942 - which eventually became the Alfred Hitchock thriller staring James Stewart in 1954 - is suing Spielberg, along with Dreamworks Studios and Paramount Pictures corp for copyright infringement.
When Woolrich died in 1968, the rights to the short story were sold to Sheldon Abend. Abend died in 2003, but his estate says that they still own the rights and "Disturbia" is way too similar to be coincidental.
In "Rear Window," photojournalist L.B. "Jeff" Jeffries (played by Stewart) suffers a broken leg and is confined to a wheelchair in his apartment. While looking out his rear window, Jeffries notices that the neighbor's wife mysteriously dissappears. Then he notices that the husband starts acting strange (lugging a heavy case back and forth from the house in the middle of the night, images of the man cleaning a knife and a saw, etc). He tries to tell people about this, but of course no one believes him at first.
In "Disturbia," Shia LaBeouf plays a student who is placed under house arrest. Stuck in the house with nothing to do, he takes up spying on his neighbors as a hobby (personally I would have been fine with the Internet, but that's me). Over time, he starts developing the idea that one of his neighbors might be a serial killer. He tries to tell people about this, but of course no one believes him at first.
The story is not identical, but its enough to make the estate of Sheldon Abend file the lawsuit. Currently there is no comment by anyone on Spielberg's side, but if there is anything new to this, we'll report it here.
As always, stay tuned.