China's gone and done it again. Not content with merely ripping off famous brands, a Chinese filmmaker was recently accused of plagiarising Pixar's 'Cars' in a newly-released animated feature.
Before we move on, you should know that the movie in question is called 'The Autobots'. Yep, just like the bad-a** cars-turned-giant-fighting-robots in 'Transformers'.
Anyway, back to the movie. Not only do the characters share some similarities in terms of their appearance (particularly their eyes and the red car), the composition and design of the promotional posters look uncannily alike!
That's not all. Even the Chinese title for both movies are almost the same.
In The Autobots' poster, half of the character "人" in its Chinese title "汽车人总动员" is obscured by a car wheel, making it even more similar in appearance to the Chinese title of Cars, which is "汽车总动员".
The leading man (or car, to be precise) in 'The Autobots' and Lightning McQueen from 'Cars' could definitely pass off as twins, as do several other characters. For example, the red and green racing car and 'Cars 2's Francesco Bernoulli...
... And even one that kinda looks like a Batmobile. What even.
The movie, released in China on 4 July, was alleged to have duped cinemagoers into seeing a movie they thought was a new 'Cars' movie. Expressing their anger and disappointment online, they also remarked on the poorly-made animation.
On Douban, a Chinese social media website allowing users to score and review movies, it received an average of 2.1 points by around 3,900 viewers on a five point scale.
"Many innocent movie goers took their kids to the movie theater, believing it to be 'Cars'," Douban user 501 commented.
"The animation was so poorly made that it is no match for the average domestic cartoon series, and far worse than its not-so-good poster."
What do the filmmakers have to say about this? Well, according to its director Zhuo Jianrong, the movie is an independently-produced and original film that has absolutely nothing to do with 'Cars' because there's a human in it.
"I know of the movie 'Cars', but I have never seen it. I don't even know the names of its characters," Zhuo Jianrong, director of the movie and executive director of the film production company, said when reached by CNN.
"The main storyline of our move is completely different than Disney's," he said. "Our goal is to teach children about thinking and innovation."
According to Sukkiri, a spokesperson for The Autobots has denied that it rips off Cars, saying that while they’ve “learned some things from Disney,” this isn’t the same as the Pixar film.
“Because people also appear in the movie,” the spokesperson added, “it’s different and not a rip-off.”
Walt Disney Company is said to have sent legal letters the film production company of 'The Autobots'. Zhuo maintains that they did not copy Pixar's characters, only that they have "learned" from Disney.
Zhuo told CNN the cars in his movie were imitations of toy cars and have been copyrighted.
"Aren't the cars you see in the street similar?" he asked, adding that this is his first animation work. "If somebody else looks like you, does that person violate the laws?"
Zhuo, who is vocal on Chinese social media, says his critics are too harsh on a domestic film production.
"We hope people can be more tolerant, as Chinese animation just started not long ago, and is nowhere near the Hollywood productions," he said. "I can only say we learned from Disney, but we would never copy."
So, should we be expecting a movie called 'Cars' with characters that look like these anytime soon?