Disney is being sued by a screenwriter who claims the company stole his idea for the Oscar-winning animated film Zootopia.

Gary L. Goldman, who wrote 1990 sci-fi flick Total Recall and executive produced Minority Report, claims in a lawsuit that Disney’s Zootopia is “substantially similar” to a project he once pitched with the same title.

ZootopiaZootopia’s bunny cop Judy and sly fox Nick Wilde

In the lawsuit, obtained by Variety, Goldman alleges: “Although The Walt Disney Company rigorously enforces its copyrights, it has developed a culture that not only accepts the unauthorised copying of others’ original material, but encourages it.

“Instead of lawfully acquiring Goldman’s work, Defendants said they were not interested in producing it and sent him on his way. Thereafter, consistent with their culture of unauthorised copying, Defendants copied Goldman’s work.”

Goldman also alleges that in August 2000 he registered a treatment for a live-action film titled ‘Looney’ with the Writers Guild of America, which was to be the first instalment in a ‘Zootopia’ franchise.

He claims that his version starred a cute, optimistic squirrel named Mimi, who is not taken seriously and is discriminated against. Goldman claims that this character bears a strong resemblance to Zootopia’s bunny cop Judy, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin.

Responding to the suit, a Disney spokesperson said in a statement: “Mr. Goldman’s lawsuit is riddled with patently false allegations. It is an unprincipled attempt to lay claim to a successful film he didn’t create, and we will vigorously defend against it in court.”

Disney released Zootopia in 2016 and it went on to gross over $1 billion worldwide. It also received the Academy Award, Golden Globe and Critics' Choice Award for Best Animated Feature.