Dreamworks is currently entangled in a new lawsuit over Kung Fu Panda, the animated Chinese-themed action-comedy featuring the voices of Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Lucy Liu, Jackie Chan, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, and a bunch more at the IMDB site. The trailer link notes that JCVD star Jean Claude Van-Damme and The Professional/Fifth Element actor Gary Oldman are in the sequel scheduled for May 27. Moving on to the actual topic, artist Jayme Gordon claimed that DWA stole his copywritten sketches, which he also submitted samples of to Disney in the 80s and 90s. In addition, writer Terence Dunn claims he pitched the kung-fu elements of the films to DWA in 2001.
Dreamworks has been no stranger to accusations of theft in recent years, as the Michael Bay sci-fi action bomb, The Island, caused the company to settle out of court over accusations of infringing on the “cult” film, The Clonus Horror, while the Shia LaBeouf teen thriller Disturbia, faced a legal battle from the trust of the author of the book which inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window over similar infringement issues. The trust was not so lucky in that case, as the claim was rejected over the argument that there were differences between the two stories. In addition, during DWA CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s tenure at Walt Disney, it was believed that the 1994 animated epic which he produced, The Lion King, “borrowed” from the Osamu Tezuka anime series, Jungle Emperor Leo/Kimba the White Lion. Even if DWA wins, however, they would still not be the first company to do an animated production revolving around a panda versed in martial arts. Further updates when available.
Update: Even though the jury decided Dunn did make a contract w/ DWA, it also determined that DWA did not use Dunn’s ideas. Dunn plans to appeal.