Disney is in hot water as San Francisco artist Sweet Cecily Daniher has put forward a lawsuit against the company, claiming infringement over the van depicted in Onward. The artist had painted a mural of a unicorn on her van, labeling it the Vanicorn.
Pixar had previously contacted her to rent out the van for a music-related event. According to her, she was told it was going to be for Pixar employees only and no contract rules would be broken. These rules included photos, videos, and visual representations would be prohibited. It was supposed to be only a showpiece.
Come May 31, 2019, though, and Daniher put out an Instagram post comparing her mural to the one found on promotional material for Onward. She later sent out a post claiming to have got off the phone with the producer who apologized and claimed she wanted to explain their intentions. Why didn’t they? According to their statement, the film was nameless at the time. This is important as a non-disclosure agreement wouldn’t be able to be signed.
Daniher’s lawyer criticized the use, calling the use a “commercial and corporate conduit for the aspirations of a pair of blue boy elves.” They also reminded everyone the van was acquired under false pretenses and unkept promises.
“They have altered this Plaintiff’s highly personal and public transubstantiation of her lifelong artistic interest in unicorns into the Vanicorn (a uniquely San Franciscan work of public, mobile, automotive art, and a redemptive and validating act of recovery from toxic masculinity and a former marriage) and which has, instead, been pilfered by the Defendants as a commercial and corporate conduit for the aspirations of a pair of blue boy elves looking for their father in a mass-marketed Disney film, and was accomplished by the Defendants under wickedly misleading pretenses.”
She isn’t just seeking damages, but also requesting any merchandise containing the infringing content to be pulled and the film to be pulled ahead of its March release. She also wants a declaration from Disney that the affiliated copyrights are invalid.
Onward tells the story of Ian and Barley Lightfoot, two elf brothers who want to see their long-since passed father. They come so close but must go on a journey to find if there’s any magic left in the world before the opportunity slips by them.
Currently, Onward is set to hit theaters on March 6, 2020.