Director Francesca Gregorini suing Apple, M. Night Shyamalan over similarities with her film and ‘Servant’

Servant launched on Apple TV+ in time for the Thanksgiving break in the United States last year. And now it has led to a lawsuit against Apple and its executive producer, M. Night Shyamalan.

As was first reported by Bloomberg Law (via Engadget) today, director Francesca Gregorini has sued Apple and Shyamalan due to the fact she feels the thriller series on Apple TV+ too closely resembles her own film dating back to 2013 entitled, The Truth About Emanuel. According to the suit, Servant has “strikingly similar” plot elements, specifically when it comes to the relationship between the grieving mother and the new nanny in the house. And yes, the film from 2013 even includes a doll.

Gregorini states that Shyamalan took the idea of her film and dialed it through a “male lens”, with Servant following different male figures in the series as they “look down” on a woman’s mental health issues. Gregorini also criticizes Shyamalan and the series for the “male gaze” in the way they sexualize the nanny.

If ‘Servant’ showcases anything, it is the gender arrogance and inequity still infecting Hollywood (and apparently Cupertino),” the suit alleges. “The result of this caricature of the male gaze is the utter bastardization of Ms. Gregorini’s work. It’s an apt metaphor for the real-life version of what could happen here: It takes only a few old guard Hollywood men, such as Mr. Shyamalan and Mr. Basgallop, and their new Silicon Valley partner Apple TV+, to negate the considerable achievements and life experiences of the women behind ‘Emanuel,’ and to irredeemably tarnish their work.

This is new territory for Apple, insofar that it deals with something in the entertainment industry. However, as noted by Variety, this is not the first time that Shyamalan has run into something like this as he has been accused of infringement in the past. Which he has. Simon & Schuster brought up concerns over Shymalan’s The Village when it released, saying it had similarities to a book entitled Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

But the suit doesn’t leave out Steve Jobs, quoting Apple’s co-founder when he said Apple has “always been shameless about stealing great ideas”.

If you’re curious, and you haven’t seen director Gregorini’s film, here’s the official trailer:

And of course, here’s the trailer for Servant, which is now available on Apple TV+:

How this one turns out will be interesting. The first time Shyamalan dealt with this, no legal action actually befell the director. Now that Apple is involved in some capacity, though, it will be curious to see how the results might change.