A federal lawsuit was field on Tuesday by Totall Recall screenwriter, Gary Goldman, who accuses Disney of stealing the idea of Zootopia, including character appearances, storylines, and even dialogues.
Although a representative for Disney has already refuted the claim, stating: “Mr. Goldman’s lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations,” a lot of the material Goldman is bringing forward to support his assertion demonstrates a few staggering similarities with the Award-winning animated movie.
The screenwriter said he started working on the project, also called ‘Zootopia’, back in 2000 with the goal of reflecting human society through a world where men-looking animals would live among different class and structures. Goldman added that he tried to sell his idea to Disney twice, in 2000 and 2009, but was rejected both times.
Two of the main characters he created, Mimi, a courageous squirrel who faces discrimination, and Roscoe, a hyena who is a cynical outcast from society, both share striking resemblances with Judy the bunny and Nick the Fox from Disney’s film.
Not only pointing the finger at Disney in relation to his own work, Goldman also wrote that stealing ideas from others is nothing new for the company: “Although The Walt Disney Company rigorously enforces its copyrights, it has developed a culture that not only accepts the unauthorized copying of others’ original material, but encourages it.”
In the lawsuit document sent to Deadline, Byron Howard, a director and credited writer of the Disney animated motion picture, is also reported to have said: “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.” Among the projects said to have been stolen are mentioned Toy Story, Monsters Inc., The Lion King, and Inside Out.
It’s not the first time Disney is at the center of a copyright legal dispute with one popping up almost every time the studios release a new theatrical animated feature, the latest being related to Frozen‘s first trailer over its evident resemblance with the short movie The Snowman (watch the comparison video, here), which Disney lost after 2 attempts to get the action tossed out of court.