Writer sues Disney/Pixar alleging stolen "Cars"

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 21, 2011 7:45 PM
Writer sues Disney/Pixar alleging stolen "Cars"

By Eriq Gardner

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) A British screenwriter is suing Disney and Pixar, claiming the animated hit "Cars" and its forthcoming sequel are based in part on work he submitted in the early 1990s.

Jake Mandeville-Anthony is seeking an injunction to stop the June 24 theatrical release of "Cars 2." He filed the claim this week in U.S. District Court.

According to the complaint, Mandeville claimed he created a three-part screenplay titled "Cookie & Co.," about the true-life adventure race-car driver Michael Owen Perkins, who won a 1988 race, and a second work titled "Cars," which included a treatment, sample screenplay, 46 animated car character descriptions, 10 cars character sketches and a marketing and merchandising plan.

Mandeville says he sent copies of the works to various production companies, including Disney, and that he met in person with a Lucasfilm executive named Jim Morris in 1993 and delivered copies of his work.

Pixar and Lucasfilm have had relations with each other since the 1980s, when Pixar acquired certain divisions of the George Lucas company. In 2005, according to the complaint, Morris joined Pixar and is currently general manager.

The lawsuit isn't Mandeville's first action against Disney/Pixar. The parties have been engaged in a semi-private dispute in the U.K, with a recent judgment currently under seal.

In the latest complaint, Mandeville points to a long list of similarities among the characters in each of the works.

Each has a character named "Stanley" modeled after a Model T Ford, lead characters modeled after a "James Aston-Martin" sports car, and each features broken down truck characters, doctors as authority figures, glitzy showgirl movie star females, Italians and rich business cars past their prime.

Mandeville is alleging copyright infringement and breach of implied contract. In addition to an injunction, he is requesting actual or statutory damages.

The first animated "Cars" film grossed over $450 million at the box office and has become a merchandising powerhouse for Disney. Pixar did not immediately respond to requests for comment.