Playwright files lawsuit to block Barbershop opening

A New York playwright filed a lawsuit on Monday claiming US$20 million (S$26.9 million) in damages and seeking to block Friday's opening in movie theatres of Barbershop: The Next Cut, the fourth of a series of comedies that he claims rips off his stage play Scissors.

The lawsuit was filed by Ronald Dickerson, a writer, actor and film director also known as J.D. Lawrence, against Time Warner, Warner Brothers Pictures, Metro- Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc and Showtime Networks.

Time Warner, Showtime Networks and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios were not immediately available for comment. Warner Bros declined to comment.

The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court in Manhattan, seeks an injunction blocking the release of the film, claiming the plot, themes, characters and situation bear an overwhelming resemblance to those of Scissors, a stage play that toured cities around the country from 1998 to 2001.

Barbershop: The Next Cut, which stars Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve and Nicki Minaj, is the latest of a series of films about the owners of a Chicago barbershop and an Atlanta beauty salon, their employees and neighbourhood problems such as gangs and gentrification.

It comes after 2002 comedy Barbershop and Barbershop 2: Back In Business in 2004. The original also spawned a television series.

Lawrence's play is about the proprietors of a barbershop and hair salon in a predominantly African-American neighbourhood and events in the community around the business.

According to TMZ, he claims there are similarities in the characters, plot lines and events. For example, Barbershop has the barbershop's elder Eddie, played by Cedric the Entertainer, and Scissors also has an elderly owner.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Playwright files lawsuit to block Barbershop opening'. Print Edition | Subscribe