In late 2003, when Playahata.com first heard that somebody else outside of the Wachowski Brothers was claiming to have written the Matrix, many of us were not shocked at that accusation. We later learned that the women who claimed to have written the Matrix was a Black woman from New York that had a lot of experience as a writer and was once very connected in celebrity circles. Her name is Sophia Stewart.
It was ironic that information started to surface from community media outlets like Brother Jammal, Gary Byrd and on the web at www.Daghettotymz.com that pointed to Sofia Stewart as the "Mother Of The Matrix" just like in the Warner Brothers Sci-Fi Movie Trilogy.
When asking ourselves the question; "Why is the mainstream press suppressing this allegation since this story was not political" - at least not on the surface. Then it became quite clearer. Stewart was suing Warner Brothers. The parent company of Warner Brother is AOL-Time Warner. They have a lot of influence and control of media outlets directly and indirectly, which includes some of the largest Black Media outlets. Even on the web their tentacles stretch over to one of the most popular destinations for Blacks, Blackplanet.com. The suppression channels cover a lot of ground but thanks to vigorous reporters especially at the grassroots level the story started to surface in bits and pieces. After all this is the Matrix, a cult classic and the most copied, satirized and creatively influential movie in arguably the last two decades. The Matrix represents the second highest Grossing Trilogy behind Lord of The Rings. Simultaneously while Ms.Stewart was in court fighting for her case to be heard, the Matrix sequel hit theatres. The Matrix Reloaded (2003) was released and according to the Internet Movie Database became the 24 highest grossing movie of all time at $281,492,479. Combine that with domestic receipts of The Matrix (1999) and The Matrix Revolutions (2003) and the Matrix has grossed near a billion dollars domestically. Taking into account international box office receipts and merchandising and the Matrix movies surpass the billion dollar mark and may have no equal outside of Star Wars.
Tabulating what is at stake here is s no easy task since the story gets complicated by the fact that her court case also involves the blockbuster film, The Terminator. Before any of this could be sorted it out though, Ms. Stewart's case had to first reach the court system before it could all be worked out and thus On October 4th 2004 after a long behind the scenes battle, Judge Margaret Morrow of Central District of California made the decision to have the courts proceed with the biggest copyright infringement and racketeering case in movie history.
Its been a long time in coming considering that Stewart filed her case in 1999, after her shock at seeing the Matrix. Immediately she said she knew it was based on her original manuscript entitled the "The Third Eye," which has a copyright, which dates back to 1981.
This is Part 1 of the tale of Sophia Stewart vs. the Wachowski Brothers, Joel Silver and Warner Brothers.
In coming days expect to see more media appearances from Stewart including upcoming features in The Source Magazine and BET to name a few but here Bruce Banter discusses with Sofia primer questions introduced by Roporter on this Question of who wrote the Matrix?
Part I: The Oracle Reveals.....
Mother of the Matrix?
Playahata.com: How and when did the Wachowski brothers get a hold of your script called the "Third Eye" to turn it into a movie?
Sophia Stewart: They got access to my script around 1986. I sent it to them because they had an ad in a national magazine looking for science fiction manuscripts that they were going to turn into a comic book. I sent it to the Wachowski brothers in Chicago. I never heard anything back from them. I had also shopped the script around Hollywood to other places. I did not know anything became of the script until 1999 when I went to the movies to see The Matrix. When I saw it with my friend Seagram, I was astonished, just blown away.
Playahata.com: Well, the Wachowski brothers have yet to answer your lawyers legal challenges and since they don’t do interviews regarding The Matrix you pretty much have free reign until the trial starts?
Sophia Stewart: This idea that they don’t do interviews is crazy, when have u ever heard of such a thing, This is one of the hottest movies of all time and they just don’t want to talk about it. They can’t talk about what they don’t understand, these high concepts that I have laid out which came from years of study. I wrote another epic like "Third Eye" called Soul’less it means born without a soul, I can duplicate my Matrix concepts. The Wachowski brothers have no other bodies of work like the Matrix they have Bound and some other assassin movie they did. I have been writing for a long time I worked on Janet Jackson first television feature scripts called “My Special Love” and “Blue Short”. I received my degree in Journalism from City University of New York in 1979. I moved to California to study Cinema at USC Film school, the same school that George Lucas and Steven Spielberg went to. I have studied writing under some of the most famous authors and writers in the world such as Max Segall, Emille Capouya, Paul Cherry etc. To my knowledge the Wachowski Brothers did not even go to film school. I worked as an intern with WNET channel 13 PBS. Check out my bio.
Playahata.com: First off the majority of people don’t understand how The Terminator plays into this lawsuit, they see a direct connection with your manuscript and The Matrix film. However The Terminator is a different movie, they get confused trying to figure out why you are suing both, please make the connection for us.
Sophia Stewart: First these two franchises are owned by the same people or movie house. Ok, The Terminator and The Matrix are actually “one book”. That’s my "Third Eye" manuscript. It’s nine chapters but it's all from the same source (no pun intended) Terminator starts from the front of my book to the back. Matrix starts from the back of my book and works its way to the front. They are moving in two opposite directions. My book was separated into two. "The Third Eye" is an epic, my book spans three time frames the past, the present and the future. Those films do the same thing. The child in the first Terminator who is born to the pregnant lady (Sarrah Connor) grows up to be the same as the grown man character in the Matrix called Neo, it’s that chosen one, savior concept. Matrix starts in the future, when technology has taken over. The Terminator was sent to kill the child who was prophesized to destroy the machines. That intersects directly with Neo as being the one prophesized to bring the machine reign to an end. One critic who is unaware of my lawsuit called the movies cousins but they are actually one in the same in the original.
Playahata.com: I see the themes being the same like Man vs Machine or Technology vs Humanity, both have the apocalyptic vision of world ending as we know it if the machines win. The artificial intelligence wanting to survive on its own.
Sophia Stewart: When you read "The Third Eye", you will see it's all one story. You have to understand I am very subtle with the way I write, I work on the subliminal. When I write I don’t want people to be able to tell my race or gender. Look at Octavia Butler the most famous black female science fiction writer they never put her work on the big screen.
Playahata.com: WAIT, I want to back track why didn’t you come out with the lawsuit after The Terminator movie came out since The Terminator was before The Matrix?
Sophia Stewart: I have not seen The Terminator film so I never knew. They can’t punish me for not having seen The Terminator. Actually my friend James Perry read the "Third Eye" and said "wow, this is The Terminator movie" but initially I never paid much attention to him. To this day the studio only tried to dismiss my case by saying the statue of limitation had expired but copyright laws go by “discovery date”, so they start from when the plaintiff discovers the problem. I currently work as a paralegal so I know about the law. When I moved to file the lawsuit against the Wachowski Brothers / Matrix in Federal court the FBI investigated and established the connection with the Terminator film for me, they established my work as having been used in the Terminator , other wise it would have just been the Matrix in my lawsuit.. Letters to me by the FBI called “evidence of access” establish my work on site. Bruce I want you to emphasize this point cause people need to understand this, “what is protected under the copyright is the expression”. These concepts have been around for thousand of years but what my copyright protects is the expression. My story is a science fiction story, its created in a science fiction form and all the subliminal esoteric stuff is unique that is my expression, so the concepts may not be new, nobody can own a concept but it is how these ideas were presented, the expression which the law protects. Copyrights last for about.175 years
Playahata.com: Before we go into the heart of your story, I want to discuss some of the court documents that you have provided me with and some of the more dramatic points that you have shared with us. The infamous term of Arnold’s –“I ‘ll be back.” – you say that you created that right?.
Sophia Stewart: Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger was on the Howard Stern show and Stern asked him about the popular phrase. “I’ll be back”. Stern asked where did it come from. Arnold told him that he did not know where it came from because it wasn’t in the script. He said one of the directors or producers on the set just told him to say it and he has been saying it ever since. That “I’ll be back” quote is in my original script which is copy written from 1981.It wasn’t written in the movie script but it was in my book, the "Third Eye". I can prove that, my manuscript is physical evidence of who had it first.
Playahata.com: Lets go over a few striking similarities between your manuscript and the movie, you have the Character Named Icon which can be translated to the one sacred persona, I means first and we all know that the name Neo is a anagram for the word One and in the movie they call him “The One” and he is a sacred personage. What other similarities from characters in your book and the Matrix can you tell us about?
Sophia Stewart: I have what’s called a character analysis sheet, that profiles all of my characters and all mostly all the matrix characters have parallels of my people. In my work I had illustrations and logo’s to compare them with also. The FBI investigators used this to establish things. Icon gets blinded and the gold light comes out of his eyes, Neo has the same experience. I can show you the page and all of that in my book. Icon’s human side dies and he is reborn and Neo’s human side dies and he is reborn, Icon comes into spiritual power and Neo comes into spiritual power. I have the old gypsy hag and they have the Oracle they work in the same capacity. In "Third Eye" my character Trafeeny has been renamed Trinity ,Vashtar is renamed Morpheus, X’sers is Apock (sp) , Un becomes Cypher, Sona is Switch, Treve is Mouse, That is straight theft no real creativity even in their theft. I have the three levels of authority which was 3 guys that could pass their power off to each other - they all become one man that is the three agents. In my book I have The Dome which is a hidden city above the earth they have Zion which is a hidden city below the Earth. I have the Guardians they have the Sentinels.