Disney Officially Found Guilty in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Theft, ‘Avengers’ Lawsuit Next

in Disney, Entertainment

The Beast (Dan Stevens) and Belle (Emma Watson) dancing

Credit: Disney

Disney’s reign over the live-action market from animation to human has been quite territorial over the last few years. Now, a past mistake has come to bite the Mouse House, and one VFX tech team is coming to “kill the beast”.

The Beast roaring (Dan Stevens) in live-action 'Beauty and the Beast'
Credit: Disney

For Disney fans, it’s evident that the company has been actively venturing into the realm of live-action films with a consistent momentum over the recent years. This strategic move appears to be a concerted effort by Disney to recapture the success that their animated classics once brought to the forefront. Not only does this initiative breathe new life into timeless fairy tales and narratives for a new generation, but it also taps into the nostalgia factor for many Disney fans who fondly remember growing up with these cinematic treasures.

A string of live-action adaptations, including Aladdin, Cinderella, Cruella, Maleficent, The Jungle Book, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, and more, have graced theaters, collectively generating billions of dollars in financial revenue.

The Beast (Dan Stevens) and Belle (Emma Watson) dancing
Credit: Disney

Until recently, the only bad press Disney has had to deal with when it comes to live actions were fans not liking the storyline or casting of the film, but now, when it comes to Beauty and the Beast, there is legal action being taken by a VFX tech company claiming that Disney has stolen their technology for the film, and Disney has been found guilty of stealing it.

The live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, released in 2017, is a reimagining of Disney’s 1991 animated classic.

Directed by Bill Condon, the film features Emma Watson in the lead role of Belle, bringing a fresh perspective to the iconic character. Dan Stevens plays the Beast, with Luke Evans portraying the arrogant Gaston, Disney icon Josh Gad plays Le Fou, and Kevin Kline as Belle’s inventor father, Maurice. The storyline follows the classic narrative, with Belle becoming a prisoner in the enchanted castle of the Beast and discovering the humanity within him and the enchanted objects within the Beast’s castle, being his prior staff.

josh gad beauty and the beast
Credit: Disney

The film includes new recordings of the original songs and additional compositions by Alan Menken and Tim Rice. Beauty and the Beast was a massive box office success, grossing over $1.2 billion worldwide, as noted by IMDB, and received critical acclaim for its visual effects, performances, and fidelity to the original while adding depth to certain characters. Emma Watson’s portrayal of Belle was particularly praised for presenting a more assertive and proactive character in comparison to the animated version. However, others were able to point out that Watson’s singing was heavily autotuned.

Related: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ Legend Shares Heartbreaking Health Update, Fans Mourn

The film received award nominations, including two Academy Awards for Best Production Design and Best Costume Design, solidifying its impact on popular culture.

Now, as The Hollywood Reporter notes, “Disney infringed on a VFX company’s intellectual property when it used copyrighted technology to animate CG characters in Beauty and the Beast, a jury has found.”

Mrs. Potts and Chip in 'Beauty and the Beast' (1991)
Credit: Disney

The publication continued, “Siding in favor of Rearden, an Oakland jury on Thursday awarded the firm roughly $600,000 after finding that Disney knew it may be engaging in copyright infringement by utilizing VFX software called MOVA Contour, which has been used in array of titles by major studios across Hollywood, but continued to use and benefit from it regardless. Part of the verdict, nearly $350,000, is meant to claw back profits attributed to use of the tech.”

The amount in question constitutes a fraction of the potential damages that Disney faced in the case, posing a threat to the profits generated by the film. Rearden, seeking over $100 million, contended that the success of the movie at the box office was attributed to the VFX work performed by MOVA.

Approximately five months following the theatrical release of Beauty and the Beast, Disney found itself facing a lawsuit from Rearden, alleging the improper use of its technology in three films, including Guardians of the Galaxy and various instalments of the Avengers series.

Belle and Beast dance during ballroom scene
Credit: Disney

A sequel to this legal dispute may materialize in the form of another trial, this time concerning Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, both released subsequent to the 2017 decision that put Disney on notice regarding potential infringement on Rearden’s technology.

With this being said, the money awarded signals that jurors didn’t credit a large portion of Beauty’s box office earnings to VFX work performed by MOVA. Of Disney’s $255 million in profits for the film, they attributed roughly $345,000 to the use of the tech in the final ruling.

At the moment, Beauty and the Beast is available to stream on Disney+.

Does this lawsuit change your perception on Disney as a company? 

 

 

in Disney, Entertainment

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