Someone Claimed 'Kung Fu Panda' Was His Idea (And So Wound Up In Prison)
Massachusetts guy Jayme Gordon wrote a story called "Panda Power." And then in 2007, he was in a movie theater when he saw a trailer for an upcoming animated movie called Kung Fu Panda. He said to himself, "This movie ... doesn't seem very similar to my story at all." But maybe he could convince people it was. So the following year, he sued DreamWorks, saying they'd ripped off his story, which he now claimed had always been titled "Kung Fu Panda Power."
DreamWorks had actually based much of the movie on a video game project of theirs called T'ai Fu: Wrath of the Tiger. That game featured no pandas; for those, it's possible DreamWorks took inspiration from another game, Warcraft III, which had introduced kung fu pandas as an April Fools' joke. Or, maybe they thought of it totally on their own—it's really not that specific of an idea.
As proof that DreamWorks had plagiarized him, Gordon offered a series of drawings he'd made of his characters in the '90s. As you can see from his drawing, this wasn't exactly a smoking gun. The bear doesn't look that much like Po from Kung Fu Panda, and we don't know who that other animal is supposed to look like:
But when the DreamWorks lawyers looked closer at the drawings, they found the evidence was worse than insufficient. It turned out Gordon had himself traced the drawing—from a coloring book, earlier put out by Disney:
Disney had put out that book in 1996, while Gordon claimed to have made the drawings in 1992. So the man was committing fraud, and when investigators looked further, he destroyed the evidence. So, while most frivolous plagiarism lawsuits just get laughed out of court, Gordon suffered a worse fate. He was sentenced to two years in prison ... and also had to pay the legal fees of the mighty DreamWorks, totaling $3 million.
We can only assume that he then tried to rip off Kung Fu Panda further, by breaking out of prison, returning to his hometown, and unleashing a violent vengeful rampage.
This fact came from the new One Cracked Fact newsletter. Want more like this, straight from your email inbox, without any ads or popups? Join here:
There's a lot of more you didn't know about this movie:
Top image: DreamWorks