Film Friday- Zootopia, a Stolen Idea?

Walt Disney Co. is facing some wild times after being blown with a copyright lawsuit, alleging that “Zootopia” was stolen from a screenwriter, Gary L. Goldman’s unprotected treatment. Goldman has received paramount success having been credited as a writer for “Total Recall” and “Minority Report.”

Having contacted Disney in the past, Goldman alleges that he unsuccessfully pitched the “Zootopia” idea twice never having seen the use until the recent billion-dollar animated movie.

Goldman has been in the industry for quite some time now is well aware that Disney “rigorously enforces its copyright” however, Goldman alleges that the company is also known for having a “culture that not only accepts the unauthorized copying of others’ original material but encourages it.”

In Goldman’s complaint, he argues that Disney neglected to acquire his work lawfully and instead told him that they had no interest in producing his ideas. Goldman claims he pitched his “Zootopia” idea to Disney in 2000 and 2009 under the industry-standard of “if any idea or material is used, the studio or producer must compensate the writer for the use of the idea or material.”

Goldman claims that If you review the themes, setting, plot, characters and dialogue there are many parallels and even the cartoon animals share visual similarities to those characters submitted. However, Disney responded, making a statement claiming that the complaint was “riddled with patently false allegations” and that they will “vigorously defend against it in court,” alleging that Goldman filed suit as an “unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn’t create.”

The reason for the prominence of this case in Hollywood is that although “idea theft” is quite common in Hollywood, it usually does not affect such high-profile writers, like Goldman.

We will have to keep a close eye on this case as there is potential that an industry standard may be wobbled.

Credit: Jessica Wong

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