An independent animator has filed a lawsuit that accuses Disney of plagiarizing her work in a Frozen teaser trailer. The trailer, which ran in theaters last summer, depicts Olaf the snowman racing to retrieve his carrot nose from a frozen lake before a hungry moose eats it. Kelly White’s independent short film, “The Snowman,” depicts a snowman racing to retrieve his carrot nose from a frozen lake before hungry rabbits eat it. In her lawsuit filing, White argues that the similarity is no accident, noting that “The Snowman” appeared online and in film festivals years prior to the release of the trailer. White also says that she submitted the film while applying for jobs at Disney on four occasions.
Lawsuits along these lines are common in the entertainment industry: Tom Cruise, Sylvester Stallone, and Morgan Spurlock are among the creative types whose originality has been tortiously impugned in recent years. Most of these suits can be explained away by the fact that people can independently arrive at similar ideas. But in this case, it’s harder to tell. The parallels between “The Snowman” and Disney’s Frozen trailer straddle the line between “seems like a coincidence” and “well, maybe something’s fishy here.” Here’s “The Snowman”:
And here’s the Frozen trailer: