Dentist sues Disney/Pixar for Finding Nemo

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Richard Kim, Feb 17, 2005.

  1. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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  2. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    Talk about your warning signs. [​IMG]

    I bet he wins big time. All that contact with the studio and so many similarities. The only question is this a Pixar theft or just another Disney theft.

    I know at this point I wouldn't go within 100' of any of their story development people with a pitch. It's pretty disgusting actually, especially when you consider how much money is made. I mean rewrite specialists and such can command $50K just for a rework, and scripts often sell in the 6 figures as I understand. They couldn't just give this guy $100K for the story and then rewrite it/touch it up?
     
  3. dannyCraigs

    dannyCraigs Agent

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    Sounds like he has a good case, shame he can only get $500, which is peanuts for a quality script. The lesson - Think about what your signing.
     
  4. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    I know this is why a lot of people refuse to accept contributions for stories, because the grounds quickly get very murky. It does sound like he has at least a basic case though, although that $500 contract is going to be tough to ignore. I wonder on what grounds he's asking for it to be waived?
     
  5. Benson R

    Benson R Supporting Actor

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    I think the guys full of shit. Look, you compare any two works and you can find similarities.

    And his contact was exclusively with Disney. Pixar seems to be pretty independent of Disney, with Disney just distributing Pixar product.

    And he shouldnt be able to void a waiver he signed. Whats the point of a contract if you can just decide later you changed your mind.
     
  6. Richard Kim

    Richard Kim Producer

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    According to the article, the dentist was also in contact with Pixar's Andrew Stanton, the director of Finding Nemo.
     
  7. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    The man wrote a story about "two worlds coming together", meaning undersea life and human life. He had a character named "Nimo". He had turtles that, as they do in real life, follow ocean currents to help them migrate.

    That's all I gleaned from that article.

    The waiver the man signed is common industry practice to protect companies and individuals from rapacious lawsuits in case said company or individual ever produces anything even remotely similar to the pitched idea.

    Maybe the Disney company should sue this man instead, since their 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a story about "two worlds coming together", has a character named "Nemo", has scuba divers, and has a scene with a giant sea turtle.
     
  8. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    That said, it remains to be seen how much overlap there is. He was talking about a more farcical, exaggerated story then Finding Nemo turned out to be. The only known similarities are a scuba-diving dentist and a character named Nemo. It's a good start, but not conclusive.
     
  9. Mike.B

    Mike.B Stunt Coordinator

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    [​IMG]

    Regardless of whether or not Disney or Pixar is at fault here for taking the guy's story (without any compensation), I have to say that I don't think this takes anything away from the film itself. If the guy or Pixar came up with the story - either way the finished product is a remarkable achievement.
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The movie that started as his pitch ultimately made tens of millions of dollars, otherwise there would be no lawsuit. If it was a flop in theaters and made little or no money, do you think he would have pursued it? Highly doubtful.

    With as much money as they made off of it, fully knowing that it was loosely bassed on his concept, they should at least be willing to compensate him somehow.
     
  11. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    The movie that started as his pitch ultimately made tens of millions of dollars, otherwise there would be no lawsuit.

    You're assuming the film started with his pitch, aren't you?

    I wonder on what grounds he's asking for it to be waived?

    On the grounds that if Disney decides to settle, they only have to settle for $500.
     
  12. Julia

    Julia Stunt Coordinator

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    As we get more and more stories on the same themes this kind of thing gets more interesting. I wonder what process they go through to determine whether a story is similar enough to another one to be a copy... I remember writing a thriller script back in film school that was about the 7 deadly sins. Needless to say I was upset when the movie "Seven" came out, but I didn't sue....
     
  13. todd s

    todd s Lead Actor

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    My parents know this guy. [​IMG]
     
  14. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Assuming what? It's pretty clear that there are more than just similarities. The final product may not be the same as what he may have pitched, but it's clear that the idea had some root in his concept. It's called intelectual property. Unfortunately, I'd also say he is bound by that $500 clause.

    If he wanted it to be entirely his own, he would have had to copyright or publish it, prior to pitching it wouldn't he?
     
  15. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    If he had an illustrated manuscript, it should have been copyrighted, or at least registered with the WGA (preferably both). If not, he may be SOL.

    Of course, he may have records of all these phone calls/meetings as well.

    Could be solid...
     
  16. Quentin

    Quentin Cinematographer

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    BTW...that $500 clause is tantamount to 'allowed' fraud. It will be found to be non-binding. You can't have someone sign something that says, "If I rip you off, you can only sue me for $500."
     
  17. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Of course I have no idea as to the validity of this guy’s claim. I do know that so far only one side has been made public. And none of those claims has been challenged.

    For all anyone knows this could be a lawsuit that has been made in hopes of a minor payoff just to get the claimant to go away.

    It is pretty hard to imagine that Disney would be liable (other than distributing the product—sort of like the paperboy being liable for a plagiarized or made-up article in the New York Times).

    The logic question I’d have is, “if Disney thought this was such a great idea, why did the farm it off to Pixar?” After all, they could produce it themselves and keep all the profits, instead of being satisfied with the distributor’s share.

    If there is a valid claim, surely it must be against Pixar. They are the company that made the movie.
     
  18. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Disney funds 50% of the Pixar films. They are not mere distributors, more like a financial partner.
     
  19. Chris Farmer

    Chris Farmer Screenwriter

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    The other problem is we don't know very much. "A meeting of two worlds?" Describes half of Disney's movies. Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Tarzan, and a gajillion others. In fact, I'd say it describes those movies far better then Finding Nemo, which only has the worlds of "the ocean" and "the aquarium." I guess Marlin going searching for Nemo could be the sheltered world meeting the real one, but that's stretching it. Sea turtles riding an ocean current. Now we have something, although it's just one sequence that lasts
     
  20. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    Indeed. But 100% is still twice as much as 50%. [​IMG]

    Don’t get me wrong—I don’t necessarily believe that corporate Hollywood is a paragon of virtue. I’m just considering the logic.

    As a financial partner of course they would be more liable than a mere distributor. Good point.

    Still you would think that the guy claiming to be ripped off, would go after the guys who actually made the movie.
     

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