So, yesterday I went to see new movie The Grey, largely because I wanted to see how closely its story veered to the plot of a horror novel that I recently pitched (with a positive response from an editor at a very cool house) that also happens to include wolves as a major element. My story is one I've been kicking around for years and years--it originally began as a comic book pitch, but eventually I decided that it would work better as a novel. Now--in the next few weeks--I will finally begin writing it.
And of course, that's when a studio finally releases a wolf-oriented horror movie.
Sometimes, that's just how it goes. Ideas float out there in the ether, and eventually they're picked up and developed, and it doesn't mean anybody stole anything from anybody else. It just happens that way.
Which makes it doubly strange that, at The Grey, I saw a preview for something called Lockout.
Now, backtrack to 2002. I was asked to contibute a novella to a Star Trek e-book line called Starfleet Corps of Engineers (SCE). This was the first project I wrote as an original e-book, and it was later collected in a paperback with some other tales (and named after my novella: Star Trek SCE: No Surrender). In the novella, the crew of the SCE ship Da Vinci is sent to deal with a situation on an orbital prison, which has come loose of its moorings and appears to be dropping toward the planet below. At the same time, a team of Federation diplomats, and the daughter of a convicted terrorist (who was once a close friend of Da Vinci captain David Gold--in fact, he was the daughter's godfather) are visiting the prison. And the prisoners have escaped their cells and taken over the orbital platform.
Here's IMDB's brief plot synopsis of Lockout: "A man wrongly convicted of conspiracy to commit espionage against the U.S. is offered his freedom if he can rescue the president's daughter from an outer space prison taken over by violent inmates."
There are definite similarities, judging by the trailer. There's an innocent daughter on board an orbital prison that has been taken over by its inmates. The prison appears to be dropping toward the nearest planet. The solution is to send in someone from outside, who first has to figure out how to get past a highly secure prison's defenses, then to try to rescue the innocent. Of course, there are also obvious similarities to Escape from New York, etc.
I'm not saying someone in Hollywood read No Surrender and decided to adapt it into a movie, without paying for it (and of course, it belongs to Paramount, so even if they had paid for it I wouldn't necessarily know). I think that happens far less often than what I described above--similar ideas, floating about (or suspended on those theoretical strings of string theory fame). When my novel comes out, it won't have stolen from The Grey. Lockout didn't steal from me. Ideas happen, and convergence happens.
Plus, in the Lockout preview, somebody literally says, "He's the best there is. But he's a loose cannon."
I would never write such a cliched line. And even if I had, I wouldn't put it in the trailer. That's where you want your best stuff!