The director of a new Chinese animated movie called The Autobots, released in theaters across China last Friday, has vehemently denied accusations of plagiarism after netizens couldn’t help but compare it to the popular Disney-Pixar computer animated film Cars.
Cars (2006) is set in a world populated with talking vehicles and centers on a hot-shot race car named Lightning McQueen, who finds friendship and love among the “simple” locals of a small town.
Here’s the plot line for The Autobots, as described by Rocket 24 News:
The Autobots revolves around a genius engineer who develops three cars with sentient AI for the ultimate in interaction with humans. In a world…where people normally drive cars, three plucky autobots will go on an adventure and find that what truly drives us all…is friendship.
Sort of similar, but anthropomorphic electronics and themes of friendship and love are prevalent in pretty much every animated kids’ flick, right?
But as netizens pointed out, not only is the premise of the Chinese-produced film similar to that of its Disney counterpart, the design of the characters and posters share quite a bit in common as well.
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 “赛车总动员”.
A Japanese TV show had previously speculated that the movie was a work of plagiarism, but the film’s director, Zhuo Jianrong, denied such allegations in an on-air interview, explaining that his team was merely ‘learning’ from Disney. He insisted that his movie is original and completely different from Cars because there’s a human in it.
Amid all of the hullabaloo, Chinese production company Blue MTV issued a notice clarifying that The Autobots is an individual production and has no association with Walt Disney Pictures’ Cars—or Cars 2, for that matter—nor with the design or logo of the Hasbro company.
This only led to more finger-pointing from web users, who commented that “Even the blind can tell it is plagiarized”.
Zhuo, however, maintains that his work is entirely original and has accused his accusers of being “new-age traitors to China”.
Take a look at some still-shots as well as the trailer and decide for yourself.
[Images via Sina News]