Netflix western Godless may have mis-marketed itself as female-driven, but the idea of a mining town run by women feels notably specific. So much so, in fact, that filmmaker David Lowery mused about the similarity to one of his own projects, and producer Steven Soderbergh has aggressively come out against the notion.

It started with a recent blog post from Pete’s Dragon writer-director Lowery, who recounted development of his own female-led western based on a dream about actress Amanda Seyfried, and an article on the Chilean mining disaster. Lowery only got so far with the concept, but soon learned the Netflix series had beaten him to the punch. He then mused in a blog post about similarities between the two projects, wondering if perhaps he and Godless director Scott Frank inadvertently traded ideas in a 2003 encounter.

Lowery didn’t insinuate that Godless was somehow tainted by questions of ownership, but Soderbergh nonetheless came across the blog post, and felt compelled to reply over Twitter (we’ve confirmed the account is Soderbergh’s, despite the lack of Twitter verification):

Lowery himself became aware of the Twitter response, and made an addendum to his original post:

A friend just alerted me that Steven Soderbergh, who produced Godless, replied to the above on Twitter to points out that Scott Frank’s script was written prior to 2003. The putting-me-in-my-place wording of the tweet - and the fact that he wrote it at all! - has had the desired effect. To be clear, my post was not any sort of claim to authorship. Nor was it meant to be begrudging. Godless is a completely original project; mine was likewise, and what I wrote was meant to be a musing on how two people can, all on their own, in completely separate chronologies, come up with remarkably similar ideas - a phenomenon which I suspect every writer is familiar with, and one I should have taken a bit more care and tact in elucidating.

He continued with an apology to Soderbergh and Frank, adding that he’d leave the original post online “as a reminder to myself that I am definitely not writing these things in a bubble anymore.” Soderbergh has not made any additional comments on social media.

In the meantime, all episodes of Netflix’s Godless are available to watch on streaming, original or otherwise.

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