Screenwriter Sues FOX Over KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE Infringement Claims

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Credit: 20th Century Fox
Kingsman: The Secret Service poster
Kingsman: The Secret Service poster
Credit: ComingSoon.net

Screenwriter R. Spencer Balentine is suing 20th Century Fox, alleging that the 2015 film Kingsman: The Secret Service stole elements from a screenplay he produced in 2004, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Co-creator Matthew Vaughn, screenwriter Jane Goldman, and various associated film companies, are also named as defendants in the suit. Neither Mark Millar or Dave Gibbons are included as defendants, however.

Balentine alleges that some story elements from Kingsman originated in his 2004 script The Keepers, which he submitted to a screenplay contest held by Marvel and Dabel Brothers, and which placed in the top ten entrants. Balentine claims the script reached the hands of writer Mark Millar and director Matthew Vaughn, who co-created the 2012 comic book The Secret Service on which Kingsman is based, leading to elements from his script eventually reaching the screen as part of Kingsman's story.

Among the elements alleged to have been taken from Balentine's script include a plot centered on a secret organization, the main character's dog companion, references to King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and the use of holograms as a plot point, along with certain specific character traits. 

Balentine claims these elements, which are present in the Kingsman film but not the original The Secret Service comic book, were taken from his script. Balentine also claims that Kingsman borrows his story's themes, which are somewhat different from the plot of The Secret Service.

The complaint filed by Balentine's attorney Steven Lowe sums up the allegations as such: "The Film is purported to be based on a comic book series originally entitled The Secret Service, first published in 2012 by Icon Comics (a division of Marvel) and written by Mark Millar. However, several key aspects of the Film do not appear in The Secret Service comic that do appear in [Balentine's] Screenplay; for example, in the comic, there is no reference to Knights of the Round Table, no small dog companion to the protagonist, no use of holograms, and the general theme of the comic is about public service rather than an individual overcoming humble origins to achieve greatness."

Balentine is seeking damages of up to $5 million for the alleged infringement on his ideas. 

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