Bad blood between the Hollywood studios over similarly-themed movies is nothing new but there's an unusual twist to a dispute between Sony and an independent production house over two upcoming alien invasion sagas.
It's a David and Goliath battle between Sony's $100 million epic Battle: Los Angeles and indie movie Skyline (pictured) from Hydraulx Filmz. The studio claims Hydraulx executives ripped off equipment and ideas for their movie.
Sony evidently fears that Skyline, which Universal is due to launch in the US on November 12, will steal the thunder from its movie, which is scheduled for next March.
The row stems from the fact that Sony contracted Hydraulx to provide visual effects for Battle: Los Angeles, the saga of a Marine platoon confronting an alien invasion, starring Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez, Michael Pena and Bridget Moynahan.
The team at Hydraulx allegedly omitted to mention they were making their own alien invasion movie that focuses on an extraterrestrial force which threatens to destroy the entire human population.
The matter may be headed to court as Sony has accused the indie company of breaching its visual effects agreement and demanded it cease using equipment which the studio claims it owns.
Hydraulx co-founder Greg Strause, who directed Skyline with his brother Colin, denies using Battle: Los Angeles equipment or stealing ideas from Sony's movie. “We've been in the alien invasion business for many years before Battle LA,"
Greg Strause told The Wrap. "The first movie I directed was an alien invasion, called Alien Vs Predator: Requiem. That's one of the reasons they came to us, we do computer generated aliens well." He insists that Battle producer Neal Moritz was informed about their movie last autumn.
According to The Wrap, Sony was shown footage from Skyline and offered the chance to distribute it earlier this year, and declined. Universal and Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity Media subsequently acquired the US rights. The trailer got a positive reaction from the audience at the Comic-Con International convention in San Diego last month.
The filmmakers suspect Sony is trying to force Universal to delay the launch of Skyline until after its movie opens. However the dispute pans out, it seems unlikely to affect the rival films' Australian release dates. Hopscotch plans to debut Skyline on November 11 while Sony has dated its movie for March 24.