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Animator Claims Disney Swiped Her Snowman

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - An animator claims in court that Disney copied "original elements" of her snowman character in the movie and trailers for the $1 billion smash hit "Frozen."

Kelly Wilson sued the Walt Disney Company and affiliates for copyright infringement, in Federal Court.

"Frozen," Disney's latest 3D animated movie, depicts a young girl and a group of friends who save their kingdom from being frozen forever by the girl's sister, the powerful Snow Queen. The flick earned more than $1 billion at the box office worldwide.

Most of Wilson's 23-page complaint involves a teaser trailer for "Frozen" and its similarities to Wilson's short, 2D animated movie, "The Snowman."

"In June 2013, defendants released the 'teaser trailer' for 'Frozen' (the '"Frozen"' teaser trailer') The 'Frozen' teaser trailer is substantially similar to 'The Snowman,' and it is almost identical to the original element of 'The Snowman,' including but not limited to: the plot, themes, dialogue, mood, setting, pace, characters and sequence of events," the complaint states

Kelly's film is about an "average Joe" snowman who loses his carrot nose and tries to make sure it does not end up in the hands of some hungry rabbits. She claims that Disney's trailer uses the same plot but instead of rabbits, the snowman character, Olaf, tries to keep a moose from making the nose into a snack.

Kelly says Disney had plenty of opportunities to see her film before it released its own version. In fact, she claims, Disney animators saw her film and talked to her at a California film festival.

"Plaintiff won the award for 'Youth Work Honorable Mention' for 'The Snowman' at the 54th San Francisco International Film Festival in 2011, in a category where 'The Snowman' competed with a short film created by an employee of Pixar Animation Studios ('Pixar') - a subsidiary of Disney - and it was made known by Film Festival producers that Pixar employees were present for the screenings. In fact, at screenings of the short films in 2011, both plaintiff and the Pixar employees were invited on state together to discuss their respective films," according to the lawsuit.

Kelly seeks a share of profits, and attorneys' fees.

She is represented by J. Paul Gignac with Arias, Ozzello & Gignac of Santa Barbara.


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