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Lawsuit seeks to prevent release of “Cars 2″ April 29, 2011

Posted by Ron Warnick in Movies.
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A British writer alleges in a lawsuit that Disney-Pixar stole his ideas for the original “Cars” movie and the upcoming “Cars 2,” and is seeking an injunction to prevent the June 24 release of the sequel, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Jake Mandeville-Anthony filed the suit in March in U.S. District Court. And according to the New Zealand Herald, where Mandeville-Anthony resides, it should be known within a week whether the lawsuit proceeds.

The Reporter said:

According to the complaint, 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. The plaintiff also says 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 at the company.

The suit is going to be really difficult to prove. According to the “Cars” Wikipedia entry and scads of other media reports I’ve read over the years, the basic concepts for the original film had been percolating among Pixar’s creative team since the 1990s — about the same time Mandeville-Anthony allegedly supplied the ideas to Morris.

Also, the Pixar-Lucasfilm link essentially ended in 1986, when Apple purchased Pixar. That’s seven years before Mandeville-Anthony met Morris at Lucasfilm.

And when Morris joined Pixar in 2005, “Cars” had already been in production for at least five years. I remember Michael Wallis, who became a technical adviser about Route 66 for the film and portrayed the Sheriff of Radiator Springs, talking about Pixar making the movie way back in 2002.

Lawsuits such as this seldom gain any traction in a courtroom. And it seems inconceivable a wonderfully creative studio such as Pixar would actually steal someone’s work.

If Mandeville-Anthony came up with these ideas, as he claims, it’s almost certain it’s coincidental that Pixar came up with somewhat similar concepts.

(Image from “Cars 2″ courtesy of Disney-Pixar)

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