David Zindel, who alleged last month that Guillermo Del Toro's critical darling The Shape of Water was plagiarized from his father's 1969 play Let Me Hear You Whisper, has now filed a lawsuit against Del Toro, producer Daniel Kraus and distributor Fox Searchlight.
According to Variety, the lawsuit claims that The Shape of Water violates the copyright that now belongs to the children of Paul Zindel, while also claiming that The Shape of Water should be seen as an adaptation of Let Me Hear You Whisper due to the similarities between the works. “Despite the glaring similarities between the Play and the obviously derivative Picture, Defendants never bothered to seek or obtain a customary license from Plaintiff of motion picture and ancillary rights to the Play, nor did Defendants credit Zindel on the Picture,” Zindel alleges.
Fox Searchlight denied any claims of plagiarism.“These claims from Mr. Zindel’s estate are baseless, wholly without merit and we will be filing a motion to dismiss," the statement said. “Furthermore, the estate’s complaint seems timed to coincide with the Academy Award voting cycle in order to pressure our studio to quickly settle. Instead, we will vigorously defend ourselves and, by extension, this groundbreaking and original film.”
Del Toro's film focuses on a mute female janitor working in a military lab who develops an intimate relationship with an Amazonian river monster, who she plans to rescue from death. Zindel's play focuses on an introverted female janitor at a military lab during the Cold War who forms a bond with a captive dolphin, conceiving a plan to release it in a river upon discovering the creature will be dissected.
In theaters now, The Shape of Water stars Sally Hawkins, Doug Jones, Michael Shannon, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg, Nick Searcy, and David Hewlett.