Melissa McCarthy and Warner Bros. are being sued for alleged copyright infringement over the story for Life of the Party. The movie wasn’t exactly a hit, as it received mixed reviews upon its release. It did earn McCarthy a People’s Choice Award for playing a woman who attended college with her daughter after her husband left her. Usually lawsuits surround movies that make hundreds of millions of dollars. Life of the Party made just over $65 million globally and Eva Kowalski is seeking $10 million in damages.
Short subject writer Eva Kowalski alleges that she came up with Life of the Party first. Back in 2014, she met with representatives of the Gersh Agency and pitched a script titled College Mom. In her lawsuit, Kowalski claims she was told that her idea had “significant commercial likelihood of success.” The lawsuit continues, “At this meeting, the script, ideas, story and treatment referred to herein were discussed and presented to the Gersh Defendants, and details were further discussed at length.”
Eva Kowalski claims that after her meeting, Warner Bros. had a “secret plan” to rip her off. The movie credits Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone as the writers. The lawsuit is seeking “not less than $10,000,000,” and the Lindemann Law Firm-represented Kowalski also is seeking an injunction against the movie. “Defendants breached the implied-in-fact contract by, among other actions, misappropriating, using, and exploiting Plaintiff’s Concepts and by disclosing Plaintiff’s Concepts, and producing the hit move Life of the Party, repackaged as Defendants’ own project without Plaintiff’s permission,” claims the suit.
Eva Kowalski also claims that Melissa McCarthy knew about College Mom the whole time and willingly put her own name on the script. As of this writing, McCarthy and Falcone have not come forward with a statement. With that being said, Life of the Party and allegedly College Mom, owe a lot to another movie. In the mid-1980s, Rodney Dangerfield, Greg Fields, and Dennis Snee penned a story that would ultimately go on to become comedy classic Back to School. It was the sixth highest grossing movie of 1986. With box office receipts and video rentals, the movie earned over $100 million.
The story for Back to School is essentially the same thing as Life of the Party and College Mom, with Melissa McCarthy playing a female version of Rodney Dangerfield. With that being said, it’s surprising that estate of Dangerfield didn’t go after McCarthy and Falcone for not giving him or Greg Fields and Dennis Snee credit for the story, as many have compared it to a remake. Eva Kowalski says she was made aware of Life of the Party when it premiered on May 10th, 2018 and says it has taken her over two years to get her legal affairs in order. Deadline was the first to report on copyright lawsuit involving Life of the Party.