Harold Lloyd's heir sues Disney over 'copied' film

Click to follow
The Independent Culture

The granddaughter of the late silent film star Harold Lloyd is to sue Walt Disney for $50m (£34.4m) over claims that its recent film The Waterboy is a copy of a Lloyd classic.

The granddaughter of the late silent film star Harold Lloyd is to sue Walt Disney for $50m (£34.4m) over claims that its recent film The Waterboy is a copy of a Lloyd classic.

Suzanne Lloyd Hayes, on behalf of the Harold Lloyd Trust, filed a suit in Los Angeles claiming Disney's 1998 film is a copy of the 1924 film The Freshman, which starred Lloyd. The Disney film, starring Adam Sandler, has taken $161.5m at the box office. Sandler, star of The Wedding Singer and Big Daddy, is not being sued but is described in the suit as an agent of Disney. He and Tim Herlihy, Sandler's former college room-mate, are credited as writers.

The lawsuit claims: "There is a not only substantial, butstriking similarity between The Freshman and The Waterboy, including similarity in plot, action, theme, mood, characters and setting. Although some of those elements have been modified to please the Nineties audience and to employ the Nineties technology, reviews of The Waterboy in respected American publications immediately recognised and reported the defendant's film to be a Nineties copy of The Freshman."

Ms Lloyd Hayes claims that the Disney film and The Freshman have 56 common characteristics, including: Sandler and Lloyd both play "nerdy" waterboys - people who distribute water to players at US sports games - and dream of being American football stars; both idolise a character who is nothing like them; both have deceitful parents kept in the dark about the characters' desires to be football players; and both films are set on college campuses and revolve around American football.

Ms Lloyd Hayes's lawyer, Bert Fields, said: "Because Harold Lloyd and Walt Disney were very good friends, Mr Lloyd's grandchildren were very reluctant to sue. But when Disney refused, once again, to settle, they really had no choice.

Lloyd was one of the silent screen's most prolific stars, making some 500 films. He died in 1971. He was best known for his resolutely optimistic "glasses" character.

Walt Disney declined to comment on the suit.

Comments