A Response By An Aspiring Screenwriter Whose Screenplay Was Turned Down Because It Was Exactly Like Robocop Launch Project

Originally published on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency

Dear Paramount Pictures,

Thank you for considering my screenplay. While I appreciate your comments, I feel I must clarify a few things in regards to similarities you feel my screenplay has with this Robocop movie you brought up repeatedly.

First, my screenplay, Cyber Policeman: Operation CrimeKill, is not just about some robot cop. It is about a cyborg policeman caught between gangs and corrupt corporations in a dystopian Detroit where criminals have overrun the city. It is a an epic tale about the war on crime, corporate control of America, and mankind’s increasing reliance on technology.

Just because Cyber Policeman and Robocop are both set in a dystopian Detroit and involve robots, it does not mean they are the same movie. Plenty of movies have robots and dystopias in them. And many are set in Detroit. Dreamgirls was set in Detroit, but I doubt you would see similarities there even if it had a robot in it or was set near, during, or after an apocalypse.

You also pointed out that both my script and Robocop have a scene early on in a boardroom where a demonstration of another robot goes horribly awry. A lot of movies have a scene early on in a boardroom where a demonstration of another robot goes horribly awry. And in Cyborg Policeman: Operation CrimeKill, it is not just some scene that’s just there for action (as I’m guessing it is in Robocop), it is there to set up the rivalry between two executives in this company.

You seem to think the way this rivalry pays off is also an instance of “careless plagiarism.” I believe it to be clearly coincidental that in both movies a selfish executive programs a secret fourth directive in the crime-fighting robot to prevent it from harming him. I guarantee if you were to type “fourth directive” into anIMDB keyword search, you would get at least three hundred results.

The fact that in both movies the man who becomes the Cyborg Policeman/Robocop is shot to death in a steel mill is entirely irrelevant. In Rudy, Rudy’s friend dies in a steel mill, but you don’t seem to think that Cyborg Policeman: Operation CrimeKill is like Rudy (although the theme of the triumph of the human spirit certainly rings true in both).

I do admit it strange that all the characters in Cyborg Policeman and Robocop have extremely similar names. But I do not think that just because my protagonist is named “Alex K. Murphy” and Robocop’s is named “Alex J. Murphy” is a sign of “unabashed, shameless copying.” A lot of people have similar names. Case in point: there were three other “Michael’s” in my fifth grade class.

I believe now you understand that your issues with my screenplay are simply trivial details. Cyborg Policeman: Operation CrimeKill is an exciting, well-crafted story encompassing jaw-dropping special effects and gripping human drama, not just an action movie about a robot cop.

I have attached another copy of my screenplay, as well as the treatment for my next project, Alien Disguise: Blue Creatures On A Fantastic World.

Sincerely,
Mike Lacher