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Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

by Bryce Zabel & Brent V. Friedman

Friends and supporters have been contacting us, many with congratulations on how our “Dark Skies” has been made into a new film, starring Keri Russell, to be released by Dimension Films in February 2013. While it sounds like a dream, we tell them, it’s actually a nightmare.

To set the record straight, we’re Bryce Zabel and Brent Friedman, the two writer/producers who created the NBC series called “Dark Skies.” It was produced by Columbia TV (now Sony) and aired in 1996 and 1997. We wrote the pilot, multiple episodes and produced all twenty hours that were aired in primetime on Saturday nights.

Our original “Dark Skies” introduced viewers to an alien invasion that featured a continuing focus on the mysterious and terrifying abduction phenomenon. So our well-intentioned friends can be forgiven if they hear about the Dimension Films version that focuses on an alien abduction and assume we had something to do with it. While that is decidedly not the case, our definitive version may have inspired it.

Our “Dark Skies” had been in the news even before Dimension decided to use our title for their film. Our series was given a world-wide release on DVD in 2011 from both Shout Factory (US) and Medium Rare Entertainment (UK). In dozens of reviews, the work received critical praise as a classic that has stood the test of time in the sci-fi and UFO media. It also spawned new interest in the reboot of our series, something that we were talking to Sony TV about when the news from Dimension Films broke.

Our “Dark Skies” has established itself in the minds of a significant number of science fiction fans as a gripping piece of conspiracy drama set in the world of UFOs and abductions. It anchored NBC’s Saturday night “Thrillogy” concept in the 1996 season premiere and starred Eric Close (“Nashville”) and the late film character actor J.T. Walsh (“Sling Blade”). Its main title design won the Emmy award and its pilot screenplay received a Writers Guild nomination. The Syfy Channel aired the entire series multiple times. Since 2010 there’s been a Facebook page where thousands of fans from many different countries push Sony for a TV revival.

And yet here we are. A film in the same genre as our work is being promoted right now using the same exact title as our work. Most Hollywood businesses legitimately consider creative and artistic interests and rights in these cases. This one seems to have slipped through the cracks of acceptability.

Supporters of the creative rights of writers should ask Dimension Films to let their film stand on its own merits and call it by a different title. “Dark Skies” is taken.

Join the Dark Skies Resistance @ Facebook

See the Dark Skies Playlist @ YouTube

Read more about Dark Skies @

Get the original, classic and definitive Dark Skies series @

WGA (Writers Guild of America) Credit, 1996
“Dark Skies” | Created by Bryce Zabel & Brent V. Friedman

About Bryce Zabel 196 Articles
Drawing inspiration from career experiences as a CNN correspondent, TV Academy chairman, creator of five produced primetime network TV series, and fast-food frycook, Bryce is the Editor-in-Chief of "Movie Smackdown." While he freely admits to having written the screenplay for the reviewer-savaged "Mortal Kombat: Annihilation," he hopes the fact that he also won the Writers Guild award a couple of years ago will cause you to cut him some slack. That, plus the fact that he has a new StudioCanal produced feature film, “The Last Battle,” shooting this summer in Europe about the end of World War II. He's also a member of the Directors Guild, Screen Actors Guild, and a past enthusiast of the Merry Marvel Marching Society. His new what-if book series, “Breakpoint,” just won the prestigious Sidewise Award for Alternate History, and has so far tackled JFK not being assassinated and The Beatles staying together.
Contact: Website

3 Comments on Dark Skies vs. Dark Skies

  1. I have not seen the film, so I reserve judgment on its merits (or lack thereof). But, yes, it is unfortunate that an identical title is used, regardless of quality; in the event of a hypothetical revival of John Loengard’s and Juliet’s struggle against the Hive, how would you retitle it in a manner that distinguishes it from the cinematic title? (By the way, as long as we’re on the subject, wouldn’t an ongoing graphic novel be a preferable medium for such a revival, as opposed to, say, a live action TV or movie, which at this point might only confuse film-going audiences?)

  2. As a big fan of the Dark Skies television series, I’m really offended by Dimension Film’s decision to release a UFO-related film with the same name. I saw an ad for it on television, and I can see no reason for them to use Dark Skies other than to cash in on the series title. It’s an outrage! I’ll be skipping the film and watching Dark Skies the series on DVD.

    • Thanks, Kevin. Brent and I are receiving congratulatory emails every day from fans who assume that this film is based on our series of the same name on the same topic. Whether Dimension could legally do this or not is an open question, they did it anyway, but it is creative theft of some kind, no matter how you look at it. Shame on them.

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