- In 2015, Disney reportedly sued Chinese animation director of film that looked like Cars
- Crazy Toy City shares a similar name and poster design, but little else with Zootopia.
- Worker on Zootopia look-alike defends homegrown film as original
Chinese Internet users have poured scorn on a local animated film that appears to borrow heavily from Disney’s smash-hit Zootopia.
Both the name and the promotional poster of the locally produced animated feature bear a striking resemblance to the Disney film that finished its run in Chinese theaters with RMB 1.53 billion (about $235.6 million).
Crazy Toy City (疯狂玩具城)—similar in name to the Chinese name for the Disney hit, Crazy Animal City (疯狂动物城)—started streaming on subscription video sites such as iQiyi on April 29.
Chinese social media users were quick to point out the similarities between Zootopia and its apparent imitator.
“I’m simply gasping in amazement at the ‘creativity’ and ‘business sense’ of our cartoon industry leaders,” mocked one user. “Talk about losing face! China’s first pay-per-view online cartoon is a knock-off”.
A poster for the movie produced by MSI and Wuhan Digital Media, the film features two animated characters looking at a bustling city signpost featuring the name of the movie.
Despite sharing a similar name and poster, the film seems to share few others similarities with Zootopia.
The MSI/Wuhan Digital Media film film tells the story of a naughty boy who is transported into a toy world after he mistreats his own toys.
Weibo user ‘Bone Hero’ (骨头侠), who said he worked on the film, defended the film against critics on the social media platform.
“This film is absolutely original” he wrote in a post accompanied by stills from the animation. “If you find any part is copied, please sue us!”
The director of another Chinese animated movie that was criticized online for copying Pixar’s Cars has confirmed that Disney sued his company over copyright infringement last year.
Still, Zhuo Jianrong, the director of The Autobots (汽车人总动员), announced in late April that he will have a sequel out next year.
Disney was contacted for comment on the similarities between Crazy Toy City and Zootopia, but did not respond immediately.
Despite strong growth in China’s animation industry, Chinese box office revenues for animated films come mostly from imports.
A recent report on the domestic animation industry found that imported animated films, despite accounting for only a quarter of total animated films screened in China last year, took more than half of box office revenue.
Fourteen animated imports screened in 2015 took RMB 2.35 billion at the box office, whereas 43 homegrown animated films only managed RMB 2.05 billion.
— Additional reporting Congzhe Zhang