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Utah filmmaker Richard Dutcher has filed suit claiming "Nightcrawler," a 2014 movie nominated for an Oscar for best original screenplay, is a derivative work that rips off his film "Falling."

In a suit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, Dutcher seeks an injunction stopping the copying, public display or distribution of "Nightcrawler." In addition, the filmmaker is requesting an unspecified amount of money for the alleged infringement on his copyright for "Falling."

Named as defendants are Bold Films LP, Bold Films Productions, Open Road Films LLC and NBC Universal Media LLC. "Nightcrawler" was written and directed by Dan Gilroy, who assigned his interest and rights, including the registered copyright, to Bold Films, the suit says.

Bold Films and Open Road Films are based in Los Angeles and NBC is based in New York City.

The defendants could not be reached for comment Thursday.

"Falling" is about a freelance news videographer who drives the streets of Los Angeles listening to a police radio for fires, accidents and crimes that he can record and sell. The suit says a crucial turning point is when the videographer records a crime in progress that turns into a murder and continues to film from a hidden location without rendering assistance to a dying man.

In "Nightcrawler," a Los Angeles man, after seeing a TV news cameraman filming a driver being rescued from a burning car, buys a camcorder and police scanner to get into freelance recording. A review by The Salt Lake Tribune's Sean Means describes the freelancer as ruthless and willing to disturb an accident scene to get a better camera angle.

Dutcher, who wrote the screenplay for "Falling" in 1999 and made the motion picture in 2007, screened the movie in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City and distributed a small number of DVDs, according to the suit. The filmmaker planned to release the movie on DVD and Blu-Ray formats in 2015, the suit says, and Dutcher, who starred in "Falling," also planned to adapt and recast the story for a mass-market release.

Dutcher says he discovered the alleged infringement when he purchased a ticket and watched "Nightcrawler" at a movie theater. His lawyer sent a cease-and-desist letter to the defendants "to no avail," the suit says.

One of Dutcher's lawyers, Stephen Silverman, of Scottsdale, Ariz., said in the letter that the substantial similarities in plot, themes and "the total concept and feel" of the two movies are striking.

"While 'Nightcrawler' is not an exact copy of 'Falling,' there are sufficient similarities to make it, at the very least, a 'derivative work' under the Copyright Act," Silverman wrote in the letter.

Even several small details are similar, the lawyer said.

"For example, the protagonist in 'Falling' is a Mormon who had gone on a church mission in his younger days; the final scene takes place at the Mormon temple in Los Angeles," Silverman wrote. "That same temple appears in 'Nightcrawler.' More significantly, in the DVD commentary Dan Gilroy explains that they put Lou into a white shirt to make him look more professional. 'It makes him look like a Mormon.' "

Because he "was somewhat taken aback by what appeared to be a blatant rip-off of my client's motion picture," Silverman said, he hired playwright and retired theater professor Eric Samuelsen to review the movies.

Samuelsen — who has taught at Brigham Young University and is currently playwright-in-residence at Plan-B Theatre Company in Salt Lake City — said in a report attached to the letter that he believes "there is no possibility that 'Nightcrawler' is an original work" and that he believes "Nightcrawler" is derivative of "Falling."

The movies are mirror images of each other, Samuelsen said, and the differences between the two are in the way the story is told, as a tragedy in "Falling" and as a satirical comedy in "Nightcrawler."

"The fact that the two motion pictures have differences is to be expected," the report says. "The central elements of 'Falling's' story, however, are appropriated by 'Nightcrawler."

Dutcher's films include "God's Army" in 2000. The lawsuit says his most personal, and his favorite, movie is "Falling."

The Academy Awards are scheduled to air live Sunday.

Twitter: @PamelaMansonSLC