Over a year after its release and with a sequel supposedly in the works, the faith-based hit starring Kevin Sorbo has been hit with a lawsuit claiming producers took its premise in bad faith.
John Sullivan and Brad Stine today sued Pure Flix Entertainment and its CEO David A.R. White, seeking at least $10 million in damages and alleging that God’s Not Dead was based on a “faith-based Dead Poets’ Society” concept called Proof that they came up with back in 2009. “God’s Not Dead, which is the Proof film simply slightly modified and re-titled liberally, substantially draws upon material from the Proof Treatments, including the genre, mood, pace, themes, settings, characters and plot points,” says the four-claim complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court Friday (read it here). Plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial.
“God ‘s Not Dead, as in the Proof Treatments, tracks the conflict on a college campus between extreme atheists and evangelical Christians, with each designed to be marketed to the Christian community as a galvanizing mechanism and a movie with concrete teaching segments set up in a classroom and debate setting,” says the legal document from attorneys Simran A. Singh and Michael Trauben of Beverly Hills firm Singh, Singh & Trauben, LLP. In the detailed filing, plaintiffs Sullivan and Stine say the faith-based Pure Flix promised them compensation for the treatment and producer credits on the finished product.
Promises that are not exactly pocket change when you consider that the Harold Cronk-directed God’s Not Dead has made more than $60 million on a budget of $2 million since its March 21, 2014, debut. Unlike a lot of these types of lawsuits, the plaintiffs aren’t exactly untested novices themselves. With an already established relationship with Pure Flix, Sullivan is also the co-director of 2012’s 2016: Obama’s America, which is the second-highest-grossing political documentary of all time, and last year’s Lionsgate release America: Imagine The World Without Her with conservative writer-director Dinesh D’Souza. As an actor, Stine has appeared in a number of Christian-themed films and projects during the past decade.
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