Netflix Shark Thriller Under Fire From Lawsuit Over Story

By Jeffrey Rapaport | Published

A major Netflix project, the upcoming shark thriller Under Paris, is enduring potential removal from the platform only a few days before its early June release. Why? The controversy stems from ongoing legal proceedings filed by writer-director Vincent Dietschy; the creative claims the film was developed without his consent but based on his original idea, nonetheless, an idea he formally registered with France’s rights management body SACD way back in 2011.

Parasitism Sounds So Much Cooler Than Plagiarism

With the thriller on pause, an initial hearing will be held in the French courts on June 14, and it should determine whether to suspend the film’s release altogether. Meanwhile, a second lawsuit concerning accusations of criticism is making its way through the courts. 

While the charge of parasitism in this Netflix shark case conjures up images of mosquito bites or perhaps a vampire horror movie, it refers to Article 1240 of France’s Civil Code; basically, it means when one party—in this case, Netflix and the film’s team—benefits from another party’s efforts and expertise— Dietschy—without the latter’s permission or compensation. 


This is too bad because the film sounds compelling, at least if you appreciate a good monster movie (guilty as charged). Under Paris is set against the backdrop of the upcoming Paris Olympics and details the arrival of a killer shark in the Seine river that runs through and bisects Paris. Xavier Gens, a French maestro of the genre, directed the Netflix shark film, which stars Bérénice Bejo as a marine scientist. 

Wrestling with her demons, Bejo endeavors to save Parisians and athletes from the Jaws-y bloodbath. The cast also includes Nassim Leyes and Léa Léviant.

The Case Is Being Treated Seriously

For his part, Dietschy maintains that the film closely and unfairly resembles his 2011 project, Silure. That idea revolved around an enormous, carnivorous catfish terrorizing the Seine. Dietschy ventures that Under Paris’s producers, Sébastien Auscher and Edouard Duprey, acquired knowledge of his idea through the grapevine, the grapevine being French agent Laurent Grégoire, to whom Dietschy pitched his idea in 2014.

While all this sounds like an episode of the hilarious streaming hit on Netflix, also from France, Call My Agent!, it’s also a serious, potentially expensive dilemma; a development dossier containing a lengthy film treatment began making its way between producers in 2015. This implies Dietschy indeed has a case to make and explains why the Netflix shark film’s release is on pause. 

Only So Many Ways To Develop A Shark Movie

As expected, Auscher and Duprey have dismissed Dietschy’s claims, stating that they had never come across his idea for Silure—that is, until receiving formal notice from Dietschy’s lawyer in 2023. The two producers stated that their film is a wholly original title, which they will defend in court. While they’re at it, the pair plan to seek significant damages for defamation, claiming they’ve suffered reputational and professional harm.

Under Paris Is Being Held Off Netflix

Dietschy’s lawyer, Maître Héloïse de Castelnau, is advancing two legal actions, the first being a suit targeting a host of organizations, including Netflix, Program Store, Kaly Productions, and Agence Adéquat for parasitism. Clearly, in the case of this first suit, Dietschy and his rep are after deep pockets. The second summons specifically calls for suspending the Netflix shark film’s release—a suspension to last until Dietschy’s claims are resolved. 

This second summons seems to be working, as the film will be unavailable on the streaming giant for the time being. Hopefully, though, fans will eventually be able to watch the movie.