Gary L. Goldman, writer of Total Recall and producer of Minority Report filed a lawsuit Tuesday in California alleging that Disney copied his idea for the Oscar Award-Winning movie Zootopia. While claims of this nature are not uncommon and often erroneous, Goldman has produced many materials backing up his case. In fact, the lawsuit opens with a quote from Zootopia director Byron Howard himself:
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.
Doesn't sound great in this context.
The suit claims Disney has a history of plagiarizing stories like The Lion King, Toy Story, and Monsters Inc. It lays out the scenario for how this allegedly continued with Zootopia:
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. 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.
Say it isn't so!
Goldman claims he pitched Zootopia to Disney twice: once in 2000, and again in 2009 when he was working with Disney on the film Blaze. On both occasions, the idea was received favorably, but the company ultimately decided to pass. Shortly after the second meeting, Disney is alleged to have begun working on their own version of Zootopia, with many similar characters, story-lines, and themes.
A Disney spokesperson has responded, saying:
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.
Things are getting heated.
Check out the full lawsuit, including pictures, on the next page!