Parenting and child development specialist Denise Daniels has sued Walt Disney Co and Pixar, accusing them of stealing her concept for the 2015 blockbuster animation Inside Out.
In a complaint filed on Monday in Los Angeles federal court, Daniels said the animated film, featuring colour-coded characters representing individual human emotions, imitates a children’s program called The Moodsters that she conceived and pitched to Disney every year from 2005 to 2009.
Daniels, who lives in Minnesota’s Twin Cities area has appeared on TV shows including Today and Oprah, said she had an “implied-in-fact” contract with Disney stating that she be paid from box office, DVD, Blu-Ray, iTunes and merchandise revenue from Inside Out.
The film grossed more than $850 million worldwide since its June 2015 release. Daniels notes that this “extreme success” was not possible without her work, and that Disney should pay her because it is “custom and common in the entertainment industry.”
A Disney spokesman, however, commented that Inside Out was an original Pixar creation. “We look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court,” the spokesman said. The lawsuit is the second in three months accusing Disney of stealing a concept for a blockbuster film. In March, Hollywood screenwriter Gary Goldman, whose credits include Total Recall, sued Disney for copying its Oscar-winning animated film Zootopia from his work.
Inside Out follows 11-year-old Riley, voiced by Kaitlyn Dias, as she tries to cope with her family’s move and shows her dealing with personifications of five emotions – Joy (yellow), Sadness (blue), Fear (purple), Anger (red) and Disgust (green).
Daniels said this resembled The Moodsters, in which characters also had assigned colors – Happiness (yellow), Sadness (blue), Fear (green), Anger (red) and Love (pink). According to her complaint, Inside Out director Pete Docter, former Disney Chief Financial Officer Thomas Staggs and several other Disney executives had access to her pitch.
We’re not so sure of where the Daniels vs. Walt Disney Co lawsuit will take us but we’ll be updating this as we get more news.
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