Lawsuit Against Disney Claims Copyright Infringement: “Wreck-It Ralph” vs “Digiland”
Back in 2012, Retro Game Network and all of it’s staff was VERY stoked about the Disney film “Wreck-It Ralph”, showing the lives of favorite arcade characters that come to life after hours, specifically bad-guy “Wreck-It Ralph”, who had always dreamed about being one of the good guys for a change. We loved it so much that we gave lots of news about it, including giving updates on its box office success on a weekly basis for many months. While the film was a success for Disney, grossing over $471 million worldwide, a lawsuit has been recently filed against The Walt Disney Company, which states that the concept of the film was stolen from a man who had brought the idea of the movie to their attention, only to have it turned down.
In the film, “Wreck-It Ralph” is the villain of the game “Fix-It Felix” for many years. In this game, Ralph destroys a residential building, while Felix uses his powerful hammer to rebuild what Ralph destroys. During the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the game, Ralph is not invited to the party, because “nobody loves the bad guy.” Ralph decides to win a medal to become a hero and he goes to the game Hero’s Duty, commanded by the tough Sergeant Calhoun, where he sees the chance of winning the medal. Ralph collects the aimed medal, but when he is returning to his game, he accidentally brings enemy Cy-Bug with him. Ralph crashes his plane in the kart racing game Sugar Rush, losing the medal in the process. When he is ready to retrieve it, annoying glitch Vanellope von Schweetz takes the medal and uses it to dispute a kart racing in her game. All the while, Felix is seeking out Ralph to tell him that their game will be shut down since he is missing. Felix meets Sergeant Calhoun that tells him that the Cy-Bug would destroy any game and he immediately falls in love with her. (No more spoilers for those that may not have seen it!)
The film was a very big success for Disney, when it was released in select theaters on November 2, 2012. With a budget of $165 million, “Wreck-It Ralph” made over $471 million in the box office worldwide, not including home video sales. In addition, the movie was in the top 10 for seven weeks, and while dropping out of the top 20 for a few weeks, was in the top 20 at various times over the course of 16 weeks. The success continued in the world of home video, being available on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Copy, as well as having a video game be released based on the film for various video game consoles. Homebrew video game titles were also created for a variety of retro consoles, including a well received version of “Fix-It Felix, Jr.” getting released for the Sega Genesis. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for “Best Animated Picture“, but ultimately lost out to “Brave”.
However, this success has triggered something new for Disney: A lawsuit. It has now been reported that The Walt Disney Company is being sued by a man from Texas by the name of Dyke Robinson. Filed by the Texas federal courts last week, Robinson claims that the company stole the idea for “Wreck-It Ralph” from him. He states that he submitted a manuscript to Disney in early 2012, (called “Digiland”), which was copyrighted by Robinson himself. Previously, Digiland had been a series of books published by Robinson. This manuscript submission, which was suggested to be an animated television series, was rejected by Disney executives. Robinson alleges that Disney “created derivative works from his own, thus infringing his rights as well as his registered copyright.” The film featured the voices of Sarah Silverman, John C. Reilly, and Jane Lynch among others, and Robinson claims also that Disney had used his proposal to create the Sugar Rush environment in the film. Robinson is seeking the maximum permitted $10 million in statutory damages.
We were unable to get any additional details about the lawsuit, however RGN will continue to follow this story, and bring you the latest as the situation develops.
Source: The Wrap