Disney is being hauled into court over their hit film Zootopia, again.
Gary Goldman, a screenwriter and owner of Esplanade Productions Inc., is suing Disney. In a complaint filed on February 12th, Goldman accuses Disney of ripping off the characters and plot of his screenplay, “Looney,” in order to make the animated film and franchise, “Zootopia.”
Goldman claims he pitched his idea to film studio executives in 2000 and again in 2009, with the understanding that he was disclosing the idea in confidence, and that they would compensate him if they used any portion of it. Both times, Goldman says his pitch was rejected. Then his story line showed up on the big screen.
This isn’t the first time that Goldman has accused Disney of theft and sued them. In a lawsuit that got dismissed last March, the screenwriter brought copyright infringement claims to a federal court in California.
U.S. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald dismissed the case last March with prejudice. “The similarities between Goldman’s work and Zootopia are not many or ‘striking’; they are few, random, and superficial,” he wrote. The primary difference between this new suit and the federal one is that instead of a copyright claim, Goldman is seeking breach of implied fact contract complaint.
“Disney adapted the small-town human creator of Zootopia, who goes to the big city to fulfill his wild ambition in the field of animation, into a cartoon character, Judy, who goes to the big city with a similarly wild ambition, to succeed as a cop,” the complaint states. “And, Disney used Goldman’s concept for Zootopia as ‘a metaphor for life and for America,’ where ‘an animal can be whatever he wants to be.’ Thus, Esplanade is informed and believes that Disney did not create its Zootopia from scratch but, rather, used Goldman’s materials as the basis for its movie.”
Esplanade is seeking damages and an injunction barring Disney from using any elements of Goldman’s Zootopia.