‘Zootopia’ lawsuit claims Disney stole idea from Gary Goldman

Wednesday, Mar 22, 2017,12:02 IST By anju A A A

Los Angeles | Disney is facing a lawsuit alleging that Oscar-winning animation film “Zootopia” was copied from the work of author Gary L Goldman.

Goldman’s credits include writing “Total Recall” and “Next” and producing “Minority Report”.

The complaint filed on Tuesday in California federal court comes from Esplanade Productions, Inc., which is being represented by the prominent law firm of Quinn Emanuel, reported Deadline.

In the lawsuit, Disney is alleged to have a track record of ripping-off work including “The Lion King,” “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc.,” “Up,” “Inside Out” and more.

“They did it with ‘Zootopia,’ too, when they copied Gary L Goldman’s ‘Zootopia’. Twice — in 2000 and 2009 — Goldman, on behalf of Esplanade, pitched Defendants his ‘Zootopia’ franchise, which included a live-action component called Looney and an animated component called ‘Zootopia,’ states the complaint.

“He 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,” the complaint further reads.

The lawsuit states that Goldman pitched former Disney executive and Mandeville Films’ CEO David Hoberman, at Disney’s offices in 2000, and that everyone at the meeting “understood that writers pitch ideas and materials to studios and producers in confidence in order to sell those ideas and materials for financial compensation.”

Hoberman responded favorably, continues the complaint, but his company ultimately passed.

Disney is then alleged to have begun work on its own “Zootopia” and reproduced substantially similar expression in alleged violation of plaintiff’s copyrights.

The plaintiff wants the court to make Disney show them “all profits derived from their use of the Goldman Zootopia and their production, reproduction, preparation of derivative works based on, distribution, performance, and display of the Disney Zootopia or the Zootopia Merchandise in all media, from all sources, worldwide.”

A Disney spokesperson responds, “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.”