Did Disney Steal Zootopia?

Gabrielle Klemt - 2A Geological
Posted on: March 25, 2017

It’s pretty safe to say that when we hear there’s news about Disney, we tend to get excited. Whether it’s news of live-action remakes of our favourite childhood films or news about yet another one of its films getting nominated for multiple Oscars, you know you can’t resist a good Disney news story. I mean Disney is pretty much the greatest; they make literal dreams come true, and has anyone seen that video of the girl who plays Moana finding out she got the role? I cried and I have no shame.

That’s why it’s even more disappointing to hear about a lawsuit like the one filed recently against Disney, alleging that they stole the idea for Zootopia from screenwriter Gary Goldman. Goldman claims to have pitched his idea for a movie called Looney to Disney not once, but twice in 2000 and in 2009. This movie was to be the first installment in a series of movies in the “Zootopia Universe”, but according to Goldman his ideas were rejected.

You may know the name Gary Goldman from his movies Total Recall and the total classic Big Trouble in Little China, a high-quality non-racist film about a white guy saving people from really bad Chinese stereotypes or something. I think I actually blocked it out of my mind after watching it so I can’t really tell you. At any rate, he’s a well-known character in Hollywood – why would he ever make up a story to slur Disney like this?

Well, Disney wants you to believe it’s because he wants a taste of the fame. The Walt Disney Corporation is claiming that “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.”

The spokesperson sounds pretty convincing, but when you look at the fact that Goldman registered treatment for his film Looney back in 2000 and even had an animator develop characters which bear a striking resemblance to Disney’s, things start to look more complicated. In fact, the character descriptions from Goldman’s script also have many similarities to the Oscar-winning film. Actually, if you go over the plot-line beat-for-beat, the breakdown of the story lines is almost identical.

I guess it’s a waiting game for now and will probably come down to who can hire the better lawyers. My money is on Disney for this one, not because I think Goldman is lying, but because the big guys always win. Am I too cynical? Maybe. Let me know what you think, I can generally be found wandering the halls of E2 or yelling at happy people.