10 Times Disney Blatantly Stole From Other Movies

3. The Waterboy (The Freshman)

The Waterboy The Freshman
Buena Vista & Pathe

Released under Disney's subsidiary label Buena Vista Pictures, 1998's Adam Sandler comedy The Waterboy helped put the funnyman on the map during his 1990s boom period, though shortly after the movie scored $186 million worldwide, a lawsuit alleged that the concept wasn't at all original.

The litigation was filed by the granddaughter of the late silent film star Harold Lloyd, who claimed that The Waterboy ripped off her grandpa's 1925 silent film The Freshman.

The lawsuit cites 56 similarities between the two movies, including, "the lead characters are waterboys, the films are set on college campuses revolving around football, the waterboys are socially inept nerds, and the parents are depicted with deceitful streaks and are kept in the dark about the lead characters' wanting to be football players. Also, in both films, the waterboy becomes not only a football player but also a gridiron hero, and the climactic event is the big game."

The lawsuit also noted a "similarity in plot, action, theme, mood, characters and setting" despite the obvious generational differences between the films. Even though the Lloyd estate appeared to have a pretty solid case, the court ultimately ruled in favour of Disney, though losing to an army of Mickey Mouse's lawyers doesn't exactly mean you were wrong.

Ironically, during his own lifetime Lloyd himself was sued by American satirist H. C. Witwer, who claimed that The Freshman was copied from his own 1915 short story "The Emancipation of Rodney". Witwer died before the end of the lawsuit, and though his widow eventually won a judgement against Lloyd, it was eventually overturned and she received nada.

In this post: 
Posted On: 

Stay at home dad who spends as much time teaching his kids the merits of Martin Scorsese as possible (against the missus' wishes). General video game, TV and film nut. Occasional sports fan. Full time loon.