The “Tetris” movie has inspired a new puzzle. The Apple Original film, which premiered at SXSW this year before arriving in theaters and the streaming platform in March, stars Taron Egerton as American video game salesman Henk Rogers, who discovered Tetris in 1988 and set out to acquire and popularize the Russian computer game.
The nonfiction 2016 book “The Tetris Effect: The Game That Hypnotized the World” charted the history of Tetris. Now, author Dan Ackerman is alleging that the film illegally copied from his book without fair compensation. Ackerman, who is also the editor-in-chief of Gizmodo, is seeking at least $4.8 million in damages from Apple, “Tetris” screenwriter Noah Pink, and Tetris Co.
Per the lawsuit, as first reported by Reuters, Ackerman claimed he sent a pre-publication copy of “The Tetris Effect” to Tetris Co., but the company sent him a “strongly worded cease-and-desist letter” and refused to discuss adaptation rights, plus threatened to sue Ackerman if he pursued his own film or TV spin-offs.
“The ‘Tetris’ film is substantially similar in almost all material respects including specific chapters and pages of said book that were simply adopted from the book to the film, without Plaintiff’s knowledge, authorization or consent,” Ackerman’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court of Manhattan, reads.
The complaint claims Tetris Co. CEO Maya Rogers and screenwriter Pink copied Ackerman’s book for the “Tetris” screenplay beginning in 2017. Ackerman said the film “liberally borrowed numerous specific sections and events of the book” and was “similar in almost all material respects” to it.
IndieWire has reached out to Apple TV+ representatives for comment.
Ackerman is seeking monetary damages of at least 6 percent of the film’s estimated $80 million production budget, which comes out to approximately $4.8 million. The author is additionally looking to receive statutory damages of up to $150,000 for copyright infringement and covering lawyer fees.
“After having reviewed the entire book that Mr. Ackerman wrote, Ms. Rogers then used Mr. Ackerman’s work, for which Defendant Pink developed a screenplay, the contents of which was taken from the book and deceptively made into a film project without Plaintiff’s knowledge or consent, which included the lack of any optioning or licensing rights,” the lawsuit reads.
A representative for Tetris Co. responded to the lawsuit in a statement to Variety, saying, “They don’t believe it has any merit but are not prepared to say anything further at this point in time.”
IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in her review for the film that “Tetris” is “not wild enough to engender an often weirdly straightforward historical dramedy dedicated to its legend. But dammit if director Jon S. Baird and star Taron Egerton don’t do their damndest to fit these disparate pieces together (sorry) into a cohesive story,” Erbland wrote. “If nothing else, you’ll walk away from ‘Tetris’ knowing a heck of a lot more about the game and the many (dare we say, too many) people who battled each other for the opportunity to bring it to the masses. (Fans of intricate stories about the ins and outs of licensing intellectual property, hello! This thing is entirely for you, plus kicky 8-bit animated graphics.)”