Someone call Officer Hopps, because Disney just got hit with a wild case.
Walt Disney Animation Studios is facing a big time lawsuit claiming that the Oscar-winning film Zootopia was ripped off from a noted screenwriter!
In the complaint filed on Tuesday, Total Recall writer Gary Goldman claims the Mouse House jacked character designs, themes, bits of dialogue, and even the name “Zootopia” from a project he started developing way back in 2000.
Goldman says he registered a treatment for a live action film called Looney at that time, which was to be first installment in a Zootopia franchise that would also include an animated “Zootopia.”
The writer alleges that he pitched the project to Disney executives twice — in 2000 and 2009 — and was rejected.
But the complaint goes further, alleging Zootopia is the only the latest example of the entertainment titan’s long history of stealing movie ideas from others — including The Lion King, Toy Story, Monsters Inc., Up!, Inside Out to name a few.
“[Goldman] provided a treatment, a synopsis, character descriptions, character illustrations and other materials. He even provided a title for the franchise: ‘Zootopia.’ Instead of lawfully acquiring Goldman’s work, Defendants said they were not interested in producing it and sent him on his way. Thereafter, consistent with their culture of unauthorized copying, Defendants copied Goldman’s work. They copied Goldman’s themes, settings, plot, characters, and dialogue some virtually verbatim.”
Goldman’s concept reportedly followed a human animator who creates a cartoon animal world that reflected a complex human society, which included class and power struggles based on the natural characteristics of the different species.
And the suit just gets worse from there, even illustrating the similarities of Goldman’s artwork with the final characters:
The complaint states that Zootopia‘s source material is unmistakable given Goldman’s comprehensive work offering descriptions about characters and other elements — which he originally pitched to former Disney exec David Hoberman in 2000.
Hoberman responded positively, but ultimately passed on the project. Then Goldman tried again nine years later, shortly after being hired by Disney to write a screenplay called Blaze, based on a Stan Lee comic.
The complaint adds that Goldman was working with Brigham Taylor, “Walt Disney Pictures’ Executive Vice President of Production and Development at the time,” who agreed to hear Goldman’s Zootopia pitch in February 2009.
Afterwards, Disney is alleged to have begun work on its own Zootopia, which ended up grossing more that $1 billion worldwide in theaters. Now, Goldman wants a piece of the pie!
However, the studio brushed off the allegations as false, responding via spokesperson:
“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.”
Better lawyer up, Goldman! It’s about to get SAVAGE.
[Image via Disney.]