RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – When a Rio Rancho man saw a trailer for a movie about teen boys trying to get out of a maze he didn’t make plans to see “The Maze Runner.” Instead, he called his lawyer.
Tize Clark says the book and movie are a rip-off of his book, “The Maze,” that he self-published a decade ago. Now that a federal lawsuit was filed this week, the author, publisher and movie studio will have to answer those claims.
“We saw the preview and at the first second it was, ‘Wow, that’s right from my book.’ It was very similar,” Clark said. “We researched it and we found out there’s a ton of things in my book that’s in his book.”
Clark knows that people who hear about his claims might think he’s living in his own fantasy world. But he says he published “The Maze” years before James Dashner’s 2009 “The Maze Runner.”
Clark’s book, “The Maze,” was copyrighted with the Library of Congress in 2002. He self-published it in 2004, then opened his own small publishing company and got it on bookshelves by 2005.
“It was in bookstores, Barnes and Noble,” he said. “When it first came out, in 2004, we were selling it on the street in New York City. We were selling it all over the place.”
It’s not just that both books are about a group of teen boys trying to get out of maze with walls that are always moving.
“When you enter into the maze, you have to go up in this elevator, lift type thing,” he said. “That’s exactly how my characters in my book get into the maze itself and his characters get into the maze itself.”
He says the similarities continue from there.
In both books, the leader of the group is an African-American teen. One girl shows up in Dashner’s version, two in Clark’s. There’s also a garden in the middle of the maze with tombstones in both versions. Teens are fleeing from less-than-human creatures in both versions.
“The names of the characters have changed, but the build of them, the structure of them, who was the leader, the short, fat guy, the muscular one, the black one who’s the leader, it’s all in here,” he said.
The lawsuit also includes the screenwriters.
“We not only found that Dashner committed the copyright infringement, but the screenwriters also took elements out of Tize’s book that Dashner didn’t copy, to fit the setting of the movie,” said attorney Doug Compton.
He challenges skeptics to decide for themselves.
“Go get both books. Do a comparison,” he said. “You’ll see it for yourself.”
The movie version of “The Maze Runner” just hit theaters last month and the sequel just started filming here in New Mexico.
Neither James Dashner nor Random House got back to KRQE New 13 to comment on this story.