Have you ever considered pitching a story idea to a big movie producer? If you have, you also have to think about ensuring that your concept doesn’t get stolen. Many times, an idea gets pitched, rejected and then later the producer uses a similar storyline.
Childhood development expert, Denise Daniels, co-founded the National Childhood Grief Institute which counsels children after tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.
In addition to National Childhood Grief Institute, Daniels created a children’s program called The Moodsters to help kids better manage their emotions. She pitched this idea to Disney-owned Pixar many times between the years of 2005 and 2009. Daniels states that there was an understanding that she and her team would be compensated in the event that the idea was used.
Fast forward to 2015, Disney launched the “Inside Out” animated program to explore children’s emotions through various characters representing different moods by using colors.
Daniels filed a lawsuit against Disney stating that her idea was used and she was not given credit or compensation.
According to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Geibelson, who writes that in The Moodsters “Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green) and love (pink).”
In a statement to the press, a Disney spokesman said: “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”
A similar case was brought to court in March by Esplanade Pictures who claims that their writer, Gary L. Goldman, pitched Zootopia to Disney in 2000 and 2009, and was not compensated.
So, my advice to you is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.