James Cameron on the set of 'Avatar'

Writer/director James Cameron is being sued for allegedly stealing the idea for his sci-fi epic ‘Avatar’. Surprisingly, it’s not the writer of ‘Dances with Wolves’ that’s doing the suing (although Cameron’s movie is so close in theme that I would expect the ‘Dances’ writer to win in a lawsuit). Eric Ryder, who worked with Cameron’s production company many years ago, claims that he came up with the idea for ‘Avatar’ and that Cameron claimed it as his own without any compensation or acknowledgement to Ryder.

Ryder claims that he came up with the idea for a movie called ‘KRZ 2068’ in 1997. Ryder’s movie is described as “an environmentally themed 3-D epic about a corporation’s colonization and plundering of a distant moon’s lush and wondrous natural setting” and that the film contained “self-contained robotic exterior suits which house a single human operator”. Sounds like ‘Avatar’ to me.

Ryder says that he pitched the ‘KRZ 2068’ movie to Cameron’s company in 1999, stating that the executives involved like the idea so much that there were some serious meetings with them before the production was shut down in 2002. The reason for the company dropping Ryder’s idea was the claim that “No one would go see an environmentally themed feature length science fiction movie.”

Naturally, when ‘Avatar’ premiered in 2009, Ryder immediately went to Cameron’s company to see why they were using his idea without telling him. It took nearly two years before the production company got back to Ryder and the answer… go away. The company claims that Cameron wrote the idea of ‘Avatar’ before ‘KRZ 2068’ was pitched in 1999.

Ryder argues that Cameron’s film is far too similar to his original pitch for it to be a coincidence. ‘KRZ 2068’ even had a role for a character to be played by Sigourney Weaver.

According to TMZ, who broke the news on the lawsuit, Cameron’s people have thus far been unavailable for comment. After TMZ broke the story, HollywoodReporter posted a copy of the lawsuit that you can read for yourself.