Disney Accused of Stealing ‘Zootopia’ from Screenwriter

The Walt Disney Company is being accused of stealing a veteran screenwriter’s idea for its animated film Zootopia, a new federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday alleged. According to screenwriter Gary Goldman, Disney took the character designs, themes, dialogue, and name “Zootopia” directly from a project he first developed in 2000 and allegedly pitched twice to Disney executives—getting rejected both times in 2000 and 2009. “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,” the lawsuit alleged. “Instead of lawfully acquiring Goldman’s work, Defendants said they were not interested in producing it and sent him on his way. Thereafter, consistent with their culture of unauthorized copying, Defendants copied Goldman’s work.” In return, according to Variety, a Disney spokesperson shot back: “Mr. Goldman’s lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations,” the spokesman said. “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.”