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Last Friday, hearings began in the suit between animator Kelly Wilson and Disney, with the former alleging that the latter based a major component of the ad campaign of Frozen on her animated short film.
You might remember that Frozen‘s initial teaser trailer featured only snowman and reindeer characters Olaf and Sven, sliding around on ice and competing for Olaf’s carrot nose. It was less of a teaser for anything the movie was about, and more of a minute and a half long short film featuring the movie’s secondary comic relief. Not uncommon for an animated film (both The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, if I remember correctly, were initially teased with original scenes that did not appear in precisely the same way in the movie).
Wilson’s lawsuit alleges that the teaser is too similar to her short film about an “awkward, insecure and clumsy” snowman and a troupe of hungry rabbits sliding around on ice as he defends his carrot nose. It cites, among other evidence of similarity, a number of major media outlets that couldn’t resist commenting on how the teaser had nothing to do with the film and everything to do with a snowman fighting an animal that wants to eat his carrot nose. From The Hollywood Reporter:
For example, Slate‘s Dan Kois noted in his film review that his 6-year-old daughter thought the “movie was about a snowman and a reindeer fighting for a carrrooootttttt!” and Forbes is cited as running an article about how Frozen‘s opening weekend success was attributable to “the false undersell.”
Naturally, Disney says that the suit is without merit and that it will “vigorously” defend its teaser trailer. I couldn’t tell you whether Wilson’ film was genuinely ripped off, or if this is a case of convergent but completely unrelated idea evolution, but I can tell you this: I am impressed by the sort of chutzpah it takes to levy a copyright lawsuit against a company as involved in restricting and extending copyright as Disney is. Not to mention one that just broke a record for the highest grossing animated film of all time.
(via The Hollywood Reporter.)
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