LOS ANGELES • The "shape" of best picture Oscar contender The Shape Of Water was lifted from an American play, a lawsuit filed on Wednesday said.
It added that director Guillermo del Toro, producer Daniel Kraus and movie studio Fox Searchlight "brazenly copies the story, elements, characters and themes" from a 1969 play by Paul Zindel.
The lawsuit, filed by Zindel's son David, listed more than 60 resemblances between the play Let Me Hear You Whisper and the movie.
They include the play and movie's basic story of a lonely janitor who works at a laboratory, forms a bond with a captive aquatic creature and hatches a plan to liberate it.
In the Zindel play, the creature is a dolphin. In the movie, it is a half-man, half-river creature.
The lawsuit said despite "the glaring similarities between the play and obviously derivative picture, defendants never bothered to seek or obtain a customary licence" for the rights to Zindel's play.
Fox Searchlight said the lawsuit seemed timed "to coincide" with the Oscar voting cycle in order to pressure it to quickly settle.
The lawsuit alleged that Kraus was aware of Zindel and his play, which was produced for television in 1969 and 1990.
Zindel, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his 1964 play The Effect Of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds, died in 2003.