Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Avatar

20th Century Fox

UPDATE (Oct. 2, 2013): A judge granted the defense's motion to dismiss Ryder's suit, agreeing that Avatar was Cameron's "independent creation" and there no substantial similarities between the two projects.

Pandora is facing a legal invasion.

A self-professed sci-fi geek who once worked for James Cameron has filed a lawsuit against the Avatar director, claiming he ripped off his idea for the decade-in-the-making 3-D blockbuster.

We wonder what Eywa would think of this?

The complaint, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court Thursday and obtained by E! News, accuses Cameron and his company Lightstorm Entertainment of developing Eric Ryder's treatment for a sci-fi tale he wrote in 1999 called K.R.Z. 2068, for which he also created 3-D visual representations and imagery as well as character and scene development, and provided screenplay development assistance.

And wouldn't you know it, the ex-employee alleges his story shares quite a remarkable number of story elements with the King of the World's magnum opus.

Per the suit, Ryder envisioned a movie "about a corporation's colonization and plundering of a distant moon's lush and wondrous natural setting, the corporation's spy sent to crush an insurrection on the distant moon among anthropomorphic, organically created being populated that moon, and the spy's remote sensing experiences with the beings, emotional attachment to one of them in particular and eventual spiritual transformation into a leader of the lunar beings' revolt against the corporation's mining practices."

Ryder claims that Lightstorm agreed it would not use any of material he developed either by himself of jointly without the former worker "sharing in the commercial receipts and the writer and producer credits." As it turned out, he contends the company told him that it had rejected his pitch in any event because execs argued no one was interested in seeing an environmentally themed sci-fi adventure.

So why then did Ryder wait until long after Avatar's Dec. 2009 release to bring this up?

Court docs state that he approached Lightstorm several times about making good on its promise to duly credit and compensate him but was rebuffed, forcing him to take legal action.

Ryder's suit alleges Cameron and Lightstorm committed fraud, engaged in wrongful conduct and breached an implied contract among other allegations and is asking for unspecified damages.

Lawyers for Lightstorm and Ryder were unavailable for comment.

Hey...at least Cameron isn't accused of stealing scenes from Delgo.


UPDATE Feb. 5, 2012: Meanwhile, per The Hollywood Reporter, a California federal judge has ruled in favor of Cameron and his Lightstorm Entertainment in a similar lawsuit brought by Gerald Morawski, who accused him of breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation after alleging Avatar ripped off an idea he pitched the director back in 1991.

In a 33-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Margaret Morrow wrote that "undisputed evidence" shows that Cameron had independently created the concept for the blockbuster for five decades going back to his days as a student filmmaker.

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