As Disney is busy working on a sequel to its Oscar-winning animated hit, Zootopia, the movie company was named in a lawsuit claiming that the studio ripped off the story from screenwriter and producer Gary Goldman reports MSN. Known for writing the screenplays for Total Recall, Minority Report, Navy Seals and Big Trouble in Little China, Goldman claims that Disney, as well as other defendants named in the suit, copied the themes of his own version of Zootopia including the name. Also, Goldman alleges that Disney also copied his settings, plot, characters and even some lines of dialogue from his story.
According to the Zootopia rip-off lawsuit, Goldman first pitched the animal-based story to David Hoberman in 2000. Hoberman was the CEO of Mandeville Films at the time who Goldman understood had a first-look production contract with Disney. The second pitch came in 2009 with Brigham Taylor who was Disney’s vice president of production and development at the time. The suit alleges that after both pitches, Disney and the other defendants “said they were not interested in producing it, and sent him on his way.”
The suit that was filed on Tuesday claims that Goldman was pitching an idea for a franchise of movies and TV series called Zootopia that would include both live action and animated parts says the Los Angeles Times. Although Disney’s Zootopia featured no live-action components, the movie is said to be very similar to the Goldman’s idea. The red fox character named Nick featured in the finished film is said to be just like Goldman’s hyena character, Roscoe. “Both are dog-like predators who appear sly, cynical, and untrustworthy because of their postures, half-lidded eyes, and smirks,” the lawsuit says. Also,”Each of the works addresses the issue of whether, in a diverse society as represented by the different species of Zootopia, one can be anything he or she wants to be.”
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The lawsuit presents side-by-side illustrations of Goldman’s characters and the ones used in Disney’s movie and says that Byron Howard, the director and credited writer for the film, told his artists, “Don’t worry if you feel like you’re copying something because if it comes through you, it’s going to filter through you and you’re going to bring your own unique perspective to it.”
The lawsuit also makes claims that this isn’t the first time that Disney has copied others’ works. Other titles said to have been copied from Disney include The Lion King, Toy Story, Monsters, Inc. and Inside Out.
“Although the Walt Disney Company rigorously enforces its copyrights, it has developed a culture that not only accepts the unauthorized copying of others’ original material, but encourages it,” the suit says.
“Defendants’ unauthorized appropriation of others’ intellectual property is a corporate practice that has generated tremendous profits,” the suit claims.
Disney, in turn, said in a statement about the supposed Zootopia rip-off, “Mr. Goldman’s lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations. It is an unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn’t create, and we will vigorously defend against it in court.”
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Walt Disney Animation released Zootopia last year earning over a billion dollars worldwide. In addition to becoming one of the highest-grossing movies of all time, the film won this year’s Oscar for Best Animated Feature.
[Featured Image by Walt Disney Pictures]