D.J. Caruso’s popular 2007 thriller Disturbia stars Shia LaBeouf as a teenager placed under house arrest who begins to occupy his downtime by spying on his shady next door neighbor (with a love interest thrown in for good measure), who he soon comes to believe is a murderer trying to lay low in order to evade the authorities.
Alfred Hitchock’s 1954 classic Rear Window stars James Stewart as a photographer confined to a wheelchair in his home after being injured in an accident, who begins to occupy his downtime by spying on his shady next door neighbor (with a love interest thrown in for good measure), who he soon comes to believe is a murderer trying to lay low in order to evade the authorities.
The similarities are there for all to see, but despite producer Steven Spielberg, DeamWorks, Viacom, and Universal being slapped with a copyright infringement lawsuit by the rights holders to Cornell Woolrich’s short story It Had to be Murder (which inspired Rear Window), two separate legal claims failed to yield results after it was determined that the two projects were “only similar at a high level of generality and abstraction.”
The furor doesn’t seem to have influenced the viewing habits of HBO Max subscribers, anyway, with FlixPatrol revealing the effective genre piece has managed to secure a Top 10 placing on the United States charts over the weekend.
The way in which Disturbia is influenced, inspired, and indebted to Rear Window is hardly subtle, but clearly wasn’t enough to incur any penalties in a court of law. The former was a big hit, though, hauling in $118 million dollars at the box office on a $20 million budget while scoring a decent 67 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, largely driven by a generation that would have never seen Hitchcock’s all-timer.