Burton Accused of Stealing 'Apes' Ending

ByABC News

Aug. 9, 2001 -- Director and indie icon Kevin Smith says he was robbed … by fellow filmmaker Tim Burton.

Like many a movie buff, Smith was none too pleased with the jaw-dropper that wraps up Burton's new remake of the sci-fi classic Planet of the Apes. It's not, however, the loose logic, inconsistency, or generally tacked-on feel of the sequence that has Smith's tighty-whities in a wad.

The Dogma director has told New York Post movie critic Lou Lumenick that he thinks Burton's big finish may have been plagiarized — from Smith himself!

Note: Skip the material under the next boldface heading if you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know how it ends.

Apes Ending Filched?

At the end of the new Apes movie, astronaut Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg) seemingly returns to Earth and crash-lands at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. When he ventures beneath the portico of the familiar monument, however, he discovers a statue not of Honest Abe, but of evil chimp-tator General Thade.

Therein lies the bone Smith has to pick with Burton, according to a report in the Post's "Page Six" column. Smith says the Ape-raham Lincoln idea is a straight lift from a panel drawn three years ago for one of his Jay and Silent Bob comic books.

The panel in question, which is currently on display at ViewAskew.com, Smith's official site, depicts rambunctious monkeys defacing the famous memorial by replacing Abe's head with a noggin uncannily reminiscent of Maurice Evans' Dr. Zaius from the original Apes.

"My jaw hit the ground when I saw that scene," Smith told Lumenick. "I think I got robbed and I'm talking with my lawyers about possibly suing."

Burton Scoffs at Smith's Claims

Not surprisingly, Burton, who's something of an industry iconoclast in his own right, isn't exactly 'fessing up.

The director of Sleepy Hollow and Mars Attacks is quoted in the Post as saying: "I have not seen the image and anybody that knows me knows I do not read comic books. And I especially wouldn't read anything that was created by Kevin Smith."

Burton's barb slams Smith both openly and subtly: Back in 1997, Burton nearly directed a new Superman movie based on a script by … Kevin Smith. One of Burton's first initiatives on taking the helm of that project (not long before finding himself without financing) was to mandate a script rewrite.

Smith may eventually get the last word: His next movie, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back — ironically enough, the satiric plot concerns evil Hollywood producers' misappropriation of the duo's likenesses and characterizations — spoofs a number of readily recognizable movies. Including Burton's Apes, perhaps?

Jay and Silent Bob doesn't open until Aug. 24. Stay tuned.

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