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Screenwriter: ‘Pirates’ pillaged my work

LOS ANGELES – A screenwriter filed a lawsuit claiming Walt Disney Co. and others behind the 2003 blockbuster movie “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl” pillaged drawings and characters he had created for an earlier project about supernatural swashbucklers.

Royce Mathew filed the copyright infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on July 7 against Disney, Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Jerry Bruckheimer Inc. and other defendants.

Mathew alleged that beginning in the 1980s, he “created and wrote a number of original works including drawings, screenplays, outlines, blueprints, storyboards and other original materials” for what he termed a “Super Natural Pirate Movie.”

Material filed with the U.S. Copyright Office included drawings depicting a pirate ship named Black Pearl, the suit claimed, adding the material was also pitched in Hollywood.

Disney denied the allegations.

“The suit has no merit,” Heidi Trotta, a representative for Disney and Buena Vista studios, said without elaboration.

Bruckheimer’s publicist Paul Bloch had no comment, referring calls to Disney.

The film raked in $305 million domestically at the box office. The sequel, “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest,” earned a record $135.6 million in its opening weekend beginning July 7.

Mathew is seeking unspecified damages, and a permanent injunction against the movie or “other infringing works,” according to the lawsuit.

Messages left for his attorney, Stephen Thomas, were not immediately returned.

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