Star Wars nearly destroyed Dwight Schrute’s favorite show, by getting into a five-year-long lawsuit. The sci-fi television series Battlestar Galactica originated in 1978 and was created by Glen A. Larson. Although the show lasted for a few years, it slowly took the shape of a brand of its own and has expanded in the form of several TV series, movies, books, comics, etc. ever since.
While Battlestar Galactica enjoyed its own share of success, it’s undeniable that Star Wars achieved a level of success that reached far beyond the stars, making it a cultural phenomenon on a much grander scale. The trouble in Paradise arose when a fight between George Lucas and a former employee got way out of hand and landed them in court disputing over plagiarism. Here’s why.
Why Star Wars Sued Battlestar Galactica?
Although evidently, both the iconic hit 1970s science fiction masterpieces essentially took inspiration from many classics of the genre, plagiarism was the main concern for the dispute. Star Wars took the iconic series to the court citing it has significantly copied elements from the blockbuster movie. And George Lucas suspected a VFX artist, John Dykstra to be the main culprit. After being fired from Star Wars, Dykstra took charge as the supervisor of the special effects pilot of the original Battlestar Galactica series.
He then went on to establish his own visual effects company, directly competing with ILM which did not sit right with Lucas. Consequently, Lucas also hinted that Dykstra also used a few technological innovations pioneered at the Star Wars set on his own project. Thus it can be said that the lawsuit by Fox against Battlestar Galactica likely stemmed from the fine line between creative inspiration drawn from genre tropes and the use of similar techniques by Dykstra on both projects. They also eventually claimed that the television series potentially ruined their TV market.
How Did Battlestar Galactica Fight Back?
During the court proceedings, Universal countered by asserting that George Lucas’ ‘brainchild’ had drawn inspiration from several pre-existing science fiction works that Universal had licensed. Works such as such as Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon were presented as the evidence. This argument aimed to demonstrate that Star Wars was not exceptionally unique in its central conflict, and it was true, at the core of it Star Wars did share a striking resemblance to both the 1930s project. So much so, that even everyone’s favorite R2D2 also wasn’t safe, and was claimed to be a copy of the friendly robots from Silent Running.
And a common string that bound all three forces really made it clear what was the fuss really about. The intricate connection of Dykstra’s involvement in Silent Running, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica effectively dispels any concerns of plagiarism among these works, and the court seemed to agree stating those were “only similar on the most general level of intellectual abstraction.” Although it can’t ever be clearly stated who copied who, both are timeless iconic pieces of work that fans continue to enjoy to this day.
Source: Screen Rant