In his Superior Court complaint, Dunn describes himself as an Ivy League-educated Chinese-American writer-producer-teacher-philosopher.
He claims pitched his idea to Dream Works development executive Lance Young in 2001 and to a second Dream Works executive, Michael Lachance, in 2002. Dunn claims they talked about creating a feature film from Dunn’s story line, characters, settings and premise.
He claims at that their Nov. 15, 2001 meeting, “Dunn specifically disclosed the concept of a spiritually marked panda bear that is a prodigy in Chinese martial arts (Kung-Fu), who is adopted by five animal friends in the forest (a tiger, a leopard, a dragon, a snake and a crane), whose destiny is foretold by an old and wide sage, Turquoise Tortoise, and who comes of age and fulfills his destiny as a martial hero and spiritual avatar (one and the same in Chinese culture) by leading his friends to save the inhabitants of peaceful Plum Flower Village from the onslaughts of hordes of destructive animals: a horde of rats, a pack of yellow monkeys, a pack of hyenas, and a giant praying mantis.” (Parentheses as in complaint.)
Dunn claims that Young and Lachance eventually told him they didn’t want to use his idea or make a deal with him, but a few months later they began developing “Kung Fu Panda” based on his ideas. Dream Works eventually signed Angelina Jolie, Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogan, Ian McShane, Jackie Chan and Lucy Liu to be the voices of the animal characters.
The film is the second-largest-grossing film ever produced by Dream Works, with earnings of $632 million, according to the complaint. It was nominated for an Academy Award and a Golden Globe, and spawned a video game, a TV series, and there is a 3-D sequel in the making, Dunn says.
Dunn claims Dream Works breached an implied contract. He seeks more than $1 million and is represented by Glen Kulik with Kulik, Gottesman, Mouton & Siegel of Sherman Oaks.
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