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DreamWorks sued for using Kung Fu Panda idea
Hollywood Reporter is reporting that DreamWorks Animation has been sued by a gentleman who claims he pitched a “spiritual kung-fu fighting panda bear” to the studio in 2001 and that the studio passed on the idea only to later create the movie Kung Fun Panda with Jack Black.
From the story, it appears the case is in the beginning stages, but that Terence Dunn, who is bringing the suit, has won a small but important early legal victory
Lawyers for both sides were in court on Thursday arguing a small but key issue. One of the challenges from the plainitiff’s perspective in these idea submission cases is that you don’t really know how much the damages are until you look at the studio’s books. The studios, obviously, don’t want that to happen, or at least they want to make you jump through hoops and spend a lot of money on lawyers to make that happen. So, like many corporate defendants in Hollywood lawsuits, DWA lawyers at Loeb & Loeb filed a motion to split (or “bifurcate”) the case into separate phases of liability and damages. That would have forced Dunn to prove he was owed money before he even got to delve into the books to figure out how much that might be.
But Judge Joanne O’Donnell has issued a tentative ruling shutting down the DWA strategy and denying the motion.