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Steven Spielberg was sued in the 1990s for a film he didn't direct



Steven Spielberg is one of the most successful directors of our time. But not everything in his career went without problems. At the end of the 90s he and his studio were even accused of plagiarism.

What film is it about? Do you remember Small Soldiers? Children of the 90s will probably still know the film with the little action figures.

It's about different characters who develop a life of their own and leave their plastic packaging. Specifically, the combative soldiers of the Commando Elite want to destroy the peaceful Gorgonites. A fight that the boy Alan witnesses because he takes parts of the characters home with him.

Small Soldiers was released in 1998 and was a moderate success. The film cost $40 million and only grossed about $72 million (via

Shortly after its release, the studio behind the film, Amblin Entertainment, had to appear in court. The reason: Another filmmaker accused “Small Soldiers” of being plagiarized. And so does Steven Spielberg, who is part of Amblin's top management.

Spielberg is best known as the director of films such as Schindler's List and Jurassic Park. In this case, however, he was sued for a film he didn't even direct. By the way, he recently recommended a special film.

Trailer for the cult film “Small Soldiers”

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The concept of the film is said to be stolen

What was the accusation? Steven Spielberg and Amblin faced Gregory Grant's allegations. Grant was also a director and won the Student Oscar in 1990 with his short film “Ode to GI.”

Watching the film, it quickly becomes clear why Grant sees a strong similarity between his work and Small Soldiers.

Even in the short film you can see living soldiers interacting with objects from our human world and causing a lot of chaos in the process.

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The images in the short film may also remind some of Toy Story.

Particularly spicy: Gregory Grant presented the concept of his film to Amblin. This was years before Small Soldiers. At that time, Grant's idea was rejected.

When he saw Small Soldiers years later, he must have been astonished. He probably thought that his idea had been rejected and that they had simply developed it further themselves.

What did Grant do about it? He first went to court and accused Amblin of plagiarism. His lawyer Ira Reiner argued at the time:

Several scenes from Small Soldiers appear to be lifted from Grant's film, and the scenes are far too similar to leave room for doubt. We see the whole thing as a case of David versus Goliath. It is very unlikely that a jury would come to a conclusion other than plagiarism.

Ira Reiner via

Should the lawyer be right? Beforehand, Reiner and probably Grant too were a little too positive. Because at the end of the trial, the court ruled in favor of Amblin and Spielberg. Small Soldiers was therefore not a plagiarism, but rather an original work.

Grant lost out and Small Soldiers became a cult film over the years. The film also left its mark outside of the cinema. There was various merchandise, such as toys, video games and soundtracks.

A few years ago there was talk of a remake, but nothing came of it as things stand. Another film from the 90s is soon getting a sequel: Twister.

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