Northland man's big car adventure sparks feud with Disney and Pixar

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A Northland man involved in a lawsuit against two of the movie industry's biggest players finds out this week if American courts will stop a multi-million-dollar blockbuster reaching the big screen.

A British scriptwriter, Jake Mandeville-Anthony, is suing Walt Disney and Pixar Animation for breach of copyright, saying the animated film Cars is based on his ideas.

He is also seeking an injunction to stop the June 24 release of the sequel.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Mandeville-Anthony wrote a three-part screenplay called Cookie and Co inspired by the real-life adventures of Kerikeri property developer Michael Perkins.

Mr Perkins and a friend won the 1988 London-to-Sydney Endurance Race in a vintage Vauxhall car they called Cookie.

Mandeville-Anthony also wrote a second work called Cars with a screenplay, 46 animated car character descriptions and 10 character sketches.

He showed the works to Walt Disney and to Lucas film executive Jim Morris in 1993. Mr Morris joined Pixar in 2005 and the following year the company released the film Cars, which tells the story of animated car characters as they travel Route 66.

The film earned $570 million.

Mr Perkins said he expected to find out this week whether the US courts would grant an injunction stopping the sequel's release.

He said Cookie and Co and Cars were inspired by his six-month drive across the Middle East and Asia in a 1924 Vauxhall Malvern three-seater.

"It was totally impractical for the journey, but it was just such a fun car to do it in. It was so high off the ground we could get across the Sinai Desert where there were no roads, and the engine had so much torque it got us out of some awful situations.

"It was the way I talked about Cookie. I'd say, 'She's done this' or 'Oh God, now she's done that' that brought about the idea of the cars as people, as talking characters," Mr Perkins said.

The similarities between Mandeville-Anthony's proposal and Pixar's film were "too much of a coincidence".

"When Cars came out in 2006, Jake was completely blown away by it.

"They'd taken the whole concept. He's been working up the case since then," he said.

Mandeville-Anthony is alleging copyright infringement and breach of implied contract. He is seeking damages as well as an injunction to stop Cars 2 reaching the big screen.

- APN

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