An Aussie film-maker has launched legal action against Netflix, claiming the streaming giant stole his concept and used it to make a series with Zac Efron.
Film-maker Ben Waddell said he was shocked during 2020 to see Netflix release Down To Earth With Zac Efron, a documentary travel series with an almost identical name as his own release.
Waddell said he pitched Down To Earth With Ben Waddell to the streaming giant in 2017, but despite some interest the series was not picked up.
Waddell's lawyers have argued the trailers and concept for the two eco-documentaries bear a number of striking "similarities".
His lawyers say the number of similarities are "too extensive and specific to be a coincidence" and "it is clear that … Netflix copied Down To Earth with Zac Efron from Waddell's pilot pitch".
The similarities include Efron's own reflections that he'd always "been a tourist" in previous travels and the similar trailer opening where he attempts to speak in a foreign language, according to Waddell's lawyer.
Waddell's lawyer also noted the show's title and concept were "substantially identical", and noted individual shots used in the trailer that resembled Waddell's pilot.
A number of other similarities were also listed by Waddell's lawyer, who said they didn't want to attempt to "catalogue all of the similarities".
News.com.au has contacted Netflix for a comment but did not receive a response before deadline.
Waddell originally conceived of Down to Earth with Ben Waddell in 2017. His TV show was intended to "bring awareness to the people and places in the world that look after the environment, whilst helping us to learn how to do the same".
His pilot was widely pitched and copyrighted in 2017, and his lawyer says his client intends to enforce those rights.
In an Instagram video Waddell said he and his team did not initially want to sue the streaming giant.
"This is not a route that we originally wanted to go down. Down To Earth Season One came out nine months ago.
"We could have come out to the media kicking and screaming, gone all over social media. But we didn't. We contacted producers quietly and professionally and unfortunately they decided to ignore us.
"So this is why we're making some noise now."
He said he'd since been contacted by other people who were "terrified" of having their creative ideas stolen and had come to him for advice.
"Clearly I'm not the right person to be asking for advice, or I wouldn't be in this situation," he said.
A GoFundMe set up to raise money for Waddell's legal fees has so far raised $6600. The goal is to raise $50,000 in what his brother Rob described as a "David and Goliath legal battle".
Netflix is currently filming Series two of Down to Earth with Zac Efron in Australia.