Gary L. Goldman, writer for films like Total Recall and Next, filed a complaint against Disney in the state of California’s federal court on Tuesday for unauthorized copying of a pitch that he gave to Disney in both 2000 and 2009, according to The Hollywood Reporter. He claims that he met with Disney executives to pitch a franchise idea that involved a live action component called Looney and an animated component called Zootopia. According to Goldman, he provided them with a treatment, synopsis, character descriptions and illustrations, and other materials that are surprisingly similar to those of the Oscar winning blockbuster Zootopia, which Disney released last year. He claims that the copying is so apparent that Disney even stole some dialogue verbatim, along with themes, plots, characters, settings, etc.
Goldman claims that instead of purchasing his copyrighted concepts, Disney began work on their own version of the project without Goldman’s knowledge, permission, or input. With the film making more than $1 billion worldwide, Goldman and his attorney are arguing that this is not only a breach of confidence but also unfair competition — with the release of Disney’s Zootopia, Goldman’s project would now be redundant to make and will most likely never be put into production.
Disney claims that the accusations are false and ridiculous, and they intend to fight this in court no matter what, however they have a past of accusations that resemble Goldman’s, with similar complaints about famous works like The Lion King, Toy Story, Monsters Inc, and more. Another point against Disney is a quote from Zootopia‘s director Byron Howard, which is the opening of Goldman’s case, “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.”