LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Comedian Chris Rock’s documentary movie “Good Hair” can open across the U.S. this week after a judge on Monday ruled against a filmmaker who accused the comedian of stealing her idea for the film.
U.S. District Judge Dale Fischer said in court that before coming to her decision, she watched both Rock’s “Good Hair” and Regina Kimbell’s 2006 documentary “My Nappy Roots.”
Fischer said the films “don’t seem to be made for the same audience,” and that portions of them “are not similar at all.”
Kimbell had sought to block Rock and HBO Films from releasing “Good Hair” without her approval on the grounds that it stole from her own film.
Kimbell asked for $5 million in damages in her lawsuit, which accuses Rock of copyright infringement and unfair competition, and states that her film “My Nappy Roots” was the basis for “Good Hair.”
Rock has said that his inspiration for “Good Hair” was actually his 7 year-old daughter, who once asked him, “How come I don’t have good hair?”
The movie takes a humorous path to exploring race and identity, while examining the industry behind black hair products, as it shows the pains some black women endure to have straight hair.
Kimbell’s lawsuit can still move forward, despite the judge’s ruling to allow “Good Hair” to open across the U.S.
“We always knew that it would be tough getting the judge to grant a request for a preliminary injunction. We are looking forward to going to trial,” Kimbell’s attorney Reginald K. Brown said in a statement. A trial date has not yet been set.
Rock starred on “Saturday Night Live” from 1990 to 1993, before going on to work in movies, several HBO comedy specials and co-create the TV sitcom “Everybody Hates Chris” in 2005.
“Good Hair,” which includes interviews with civil rights leader Al Sharpton, author Maya Angelou and rap star Ice-T, garnered buzz on the film festival circuit this year, and opened in limited release on October 9. It will broaden its release across the United States on Friday.
Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis: Editing by Bob Tourtellotte