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5. Michael Lachance: "Inspiration for KF Panda Originated Most Likely From One of Those Lists"

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Published on Nov 24, 2013

June 6, 2011 Deposition of former Dreamworks development executive Michael Lachance (in Terence Dunn v. Dreamworks Animation). When asked by Dunn's lawyer whether there was any document that he had read that caused him to create the idea for "Kung Fu Panda", Lachance testifies that the Dreamworks development department used lists of places and animals and that sometimes places and animals would be on the same page and that genres would be on "those lists", too. When asked by Dunn's lawyer if his inspiration for his idea for Kung fu Panda was general categories of locations, animals and concepts, followed by an objection by Dreamworks' lawyer David Grossman, he offers this rather vague, uncertain, and ambulating clarification: "Yes, the inspiration for, you know, an idea like Kung Fu Panda would have originated most likely from one of those lists."
Five weeks later, during his trial testimony on July 13, 2011, Lachance testified that two documents (Trial Exhibits #279 and #275) from the Dreamworks development department (dated late 2011) are similar to but neither one is the actual "list of locations and animals" that was the inspiration for his creation of "Kung Fu Panda". Then he states that the Kung Fu Panda idea that he had conceived of was not based on any personal experiences that he had had (e.g., involving pandas, China, or martial arts).

6 RT 1412, lines 8-10:
8 Q AND YOUR INSPIRATION FOR THE MOVIE WAS A
9 LIST OF LOCATIONS AND ANIMALS, CORRECT?
10 A YES.

6 RT 1413-1415:
1 Q AND YOUR IDEA FOR THE MOVIE "KUNG FU PANDA"
2 WAS NOT BASED ON ANY PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF YOURS,
3 CORRECT?
4 A NO.
5 Q MEANING NO, NOT CORRECT OR CORRECT?
6 A NO, IT WAS NOT BASED ON ANY PERSONAL
7 EXPERIENCE.
8 Q SO I'D LIKE YOU TO LOOK AT TRIAL EXHIBIT
9 279. IT'S NOT YET ADMITTED IN THE CASE.
10
11 (EXHIBIT 279 WAS MARKED FOR
12 IDENTIFICATION.)
13
14 Q BY MS. MACELLARO: IT'S A TWO-PAGE DOCUMENT,
15 AND I'D ASK YOU TO LOOK AT BOTH PAGES.
16 A 279, IS THAT THE NUMBER?
17 Q YES. DO YOU SEE THE PAGE THAT SAYS
18 "DREAMWORKS AREAS OF INTEREST"?
19 YES.
20 Q DO YOU RECOGNIZE THIS DOCUMENT?
21 A YES.
22 Q IS THIS A DOCUMENT YOU WERE REFERRING TO AS
23 YOUR INSPIRATION?
24 A NO, IT WAS NOT.
25 Q IS THIS A SIMILAR DOCUMENT TO WHAT YOU WERE
26 REFERRING TO AS YOUR INSPIRATION?
27 A IT'S A SIMILAR DOCUMENT, BUT THIS IS NOT THE
28 DOCUMENT.

1414
1 Q IS THIS A DOCUMENT THAT, IN FACT, WAS IN
2 DREAMWORKS ANIMATION'S FILES AT THE TIME THAT YOU CAME UP
3 WITH THE IDEA OF THE "KUNG FU PANDA"?
4 A WELL, THIS DOCUMENT, FROM THE INDICATION
5 HERE FROM WHEN IT WAS CREATED, NOVEMBER 8TH, 2001, THIS
6 DOCUMENT WAS NOT IN EXISTENCE AT THE TIME THAT I CAME UP
7 WITH THE IDEA FOR "KUNG FU PANDA."
8 Q IS THAT DOCUMENT A DOCUMENT THAT YOU HAVE
9 EVER SEEN AT DREAMWORKS ANIMATION, OR IS IT YOUR TESTIMONY
10 THAT YOU JUST HAVE NEVER SEEN IT BEFORE?
11 A WHICH DOCUMENT ARE YOU REFERRING TO?
12 Q THE ONE THAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT.
13 A THIS ONE RIGHT HERE?
14 Q YES. A SIMPLE YES-OR-NO ANSWER.
15 A HAVE I SEEN IT, YES.
16 Q OKAY. CAN YOU LOOK NOW AT EXHIBIT 275,
17 WHICH IS ALSO NOT YET IN EVIDENCE.
18
19 (EXHIBIT 275 WAS MARKED FOR
20 IDENTIFICATION.)
21
22 Q BY MS. MACELLARO: DO YOU HAVE THAT IN FRONT
23 OF YOU?
24 A YES.
25 Q DO YOU SEE IT'S A DOCUMENT THAT SAYS "ANIMAL
26 SLASH ARENAS"?
27 A YES.
28 Q IS THAT THE DOCUMENT YOU WERE REFERRING TO

1415
1 IN YOUR TESTIMONY WHEN YOU SAID THAT YOU LOOKED AT A LIST
2 OF LOCATIONS AND ANIMALS?
3 A NO, THIS IS NOT THE DOCUMENT.
4 Q OKAY. HAVE YOU SEEN THAT PARTICULAR
5 DOCUMENT BEFORE?
6 A THIS ONE, YES.
7 Q AND IS IT SIMILAR TO THE DOCUMENT THAT YOU
8 WERE REFERRING TO?
9 A IT IS SIMILAR.
10 MS. MACELLARO: OKAY. I ASK THAT EXHIBIT 275 BE
11 ADMITTED INTO EVIDENCE.
12 MR. GROSSMAN: YOUR HONOR, THERE ARE TWO PAGES OF
13 THIS DOCUMENT. I THINK THERE'S FOUNDATION FOR THE SECOND
14 PAGE.
15 THE COURT: WE'LL HOLD OFF ON IT AND HAVE
16 DISCUSSION ON IT.

(Plaintiff Terry Dunn alleged in his Complaint [Terence Dunn v. Dreamworks Animation SKG, Inc. (BC438833)] and in his trial testimony that Lachance's boss, Lance Young, Sr. V.P. of Development and Creative Affairs at Dreamworks, took Dunn's pitch of "The Adventures of Zen-Bear, the Kung Fu Panda" on Nov. 20, 2001 [that he had conceived of in 1992] and argued at trial that Young and Lachance in collaboration stole his story elements and used them as the basis of Dreamworks' "Kung Fu Panda" movie: "a spiritually-marked kung fu-fighting panda bear mentored by five animal friends of the forest [a tiger, dragon, snake, crane and leopard] who saves a peaceful village from animal marauders and whose destiny as a martial arts hero and avatar is foretold by a sage tortoise.")

See history of Terence Dunn v. Dreamworks Animation SKG, Inc. at:
http://www.kungfupandalawsuit.com/ima...

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