Disney and Pixar may not have been heeding those piracy ads at the start of DVD’s: ‘You wouldn’t steal a car, would you?’ Screenwriter Jake Mandeville-Anthony is accusing the world-devouring companies of taking his idea for screenplay called Cookie & Company, about real-life race car driver Michael Owen Perkins, and another film titled – you guessed it, Cars – which featured anthropomorphic automobiles. His original pitch for the second work included a treatment, screenplay, descriptions for 46 vehicular characters, 10 character sketches and even marketing and merchandising ideas. He claims to have sent these materials to multiple companies – including but not limited to Disney – and also to have taken a meeting with LucasFilm executive Jim Morris in 1993. LucasFilm and Pixar have close ties: in fact, Morris is currently the general manager of Pixar.
We’re normally skeptical about lawsuits like this, particularly when they only show up years after the film has been released (Pixar’s Cars came out in 2006, and was announced a long time before that), but according to The Hollywood Reporter, Mandeville-Anthony and Pixar are already locked in a private legal dispute. We’d tell you what that’s about, but apparently it’s private. The crux of the writer’s claim appears to be that many of the characters in Pixar’s movie bear similarities to his own creations, including a Model T Ford named ‘Stanley’ (okay, that’s pretty on-the-nose), an Aston-Martin protagonist, broken down trucks, and Italians. We hope he has a little more to go on than that though, since anthropomorphic cars have been around in animation for many, many decades.
If anything, Cars bears more similarities to Michael Caton-Jones’s Doc Hollywood, a dramedy about a hotshot city boy (Michael J. Fox) who crashes his sports car in a small town while driving across country to a big new job, and is forced to stay there and work off the damages. While there he learns a valuable lesson about humility, falls in love with a sassy gal, and so on. It’s practically the same movie as Cars. It’s also a better movie than Cars, but hey… It’s harder to sell ‘big city doctor’ toys, isn’t it?
If successful – and we can’t imagine Disney not settling out of court if Jake Mandeville-Anthony has even a wobbly leg to stand on – the lawsuit could potentially derail this summer’s release of Cars 2, but seriously… don’t count on it.
Crave Online will be back with more Cars 2 news as it lubes up.