Police blame 'Project X' film for inspiring copycat parties



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Posted on March 21, 2012 at 10:15 PM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 21 at 10:35 PM

DALLAS — It has only been in theaters for three weeks, but already police in North Texas and across the country say the movie "Project X" is leading to break-ins, vandalism, drug use, and at least one murder.

The Warner Bros. film is about teenagers throwing a party that grows out of control while their parents are out of town.

But police say the fictional film is inspiring copycat parties where teenagers break in to vacant houses and vandalize them.

An 18-year-old football player was shot and killed during one such party in Houston.

In another incident near Houston, teenagers trashed a half-million dollar vacant house during a "Project X" party, leaving behind more than $80,000 in damage.

"When you look at the movie, and you look at what happened here, the parallels are the uncanny," said private investigator Mark Stephens in an interview with Houston television station KHOU. "It was a copycat. They did everything that I saw in the movie."

Stephens called police to arrest a group of teenagers the next night at another house who where the same thing was happening. Police charged 11 people with criminal trespassing in that incident.

That same night, Collin County Sheriff's deputies headed off a party supposed to happen at a vacant rural home off Highway 380 just west of McKinney.

"Deputies made contacts with approximately 400 persons, with about 100 of them being juveniles, from various cities in the Metroplex," said sheriff's office spokesman Lt. John Norton. "Fourteen citations were issued for Minor in Possession of Alcohol and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. The host of the party has not been identified, and the investigation into this incident continues."

The renter of a North Dallas home is advertising another "Project X" party this weekend.

Party invitations often spread online or through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Warner Bros., the distributor of "Project X," provided this statement to ABC News:

"These incidents are deplorable and it goes without saying that 'Project X' is a fictional movie and that Warner Bros. does not condone — and strongly discourages — anyone from attempting to imitate conduct portrayed by actors in a controlled environment during the filming of a motion picture."

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com