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‘Monsters, Inc.’ Movie Set for Release

November 2, 2001 GMT

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) _ The movie ``Monsters, Inc.″ won’t be scared out of movie theaters, despite a woman’s claim that filmmakers pilfered her ideas.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer declined Thursday to halt the release of the new Pixar film, which debuts in more than 3,200 theaters nationwide Friday.

Lori Madrid filed suit to block the release, claiming that Pixar Studios and Walt Disney Pictures took certain ideas and themes from an 11-line poem she submitted to San Francisco-based Chronicle Books in 1999. Chronicle is publishing a book based on the film. She sought an injunction to stop the release.

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She said the publisher is linked to Lucasfilms, which works with Pixar, and asserted that because of that relationship, her ideas may have been passed onto Pixar.

Brimmer, however, said he saw no evidence of any copyright violations.

``The concept of monsters coming through the door and having their own fears and that they are scared of kids may be a fairly common concept,″ he said.

``Monsters, Inc.,″ which features the voices of John Goodman and Billy Crystal, is a computer-animated tale of the secret world of monsters who make their living scaring children by hiding under beds and jumping out of closets.

The film is Pixar’s fourth major release and is expected to earn more than $100 million during the holiday film season. It will be accompanied by a blitz of books, CDs, toys, apparel, posters, party supplies, games, Halloween costumes and other items. Pixar’s previous films include ``Toy Story″ and its sequel, and ``A Bug’s Life.″

Some of Hollywood’s top figures testified at a six-and-a-half hour hearing, including Pete Docter, the movie’s director, and Richard Cook, who heads Disney’s motion picture group.

Brimmer said Cook’s testimony was ``very convincing.″

Cook said Disney and Pixar could lose ``hundreds of millions of dollars″ if the film’s release is delayed at the start of the holiday season.

``There’s only one holiday season,″ he said. ``You only get one crack at it.″

Madrid testified that a preview she saw of the film convinced her that the expression of her ideas had been copied.

``I just started crying and I couldn’t believe it,″ she said. ``Everything about the way that scene was created was mine.″

Docter testified that the characters were already established before Madrid submitted the poem to Chronicle Books.

Madrid’s attorney, Beth Bollinger, of Spokane, Wash., said she only had circumstantial evidence that pointed to Madrid’s concepts being lifted, and said the defendants failed to provide her with evidence to the contrary.

She also said the personality of the film’s lead character, a little girl named Boo, changed considerably, becoming softer, like the boy character in Madrid’s poem, after her manuscript was submitted in October 1999.

Docter, however, said most of the characterization and story line was set long before then.

Asked by Bollinger if some scenes could have been completed after that date, he replied, ``Possible, but very unlikely.″

___

On the Net:

http://www.pixar.com

http://www.disney.com

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