Did Phantom Menace Rob Dinotopia?
Many fans of James Gurney's Dinotopia novels about a civilization where humans and dinosaurs live side-by-side smelled larceny when they screened director George Lucas's Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. The author says that after moviegoers spotted scenes in Phantom Menace featuring a city with a waterfall around it and a big parade of creatures, his phone "rang off the hook"!
"I guess Mr. Lucas's phone must have rung off the hook too," Gurney adds, "because he gave me a call the next day and seemed concerned about my reactions. There were a lot of critics who noticed the comparison and mentioned them in print."
Fortunately for Lucas, Gurney wasn't feeling litigious. He was simply concerned for the welfare of ABC's six-hour Dinotopia miniseries slated for May and produced by Robert Halmi Sr. and the TV series planned to follow. "My feeling... is that it's the nature of the artistic enterprise for people to be inspired by each other," Gurney says. "I was certainly inspired by Star Wars. The only one concern I had was that people might see Waterfall City in Dinotopia and think it's borrowed from somewhere else.
"But," Gurney points out, "those who know the books and I think there are a lot of them out there will remember that Dinotopia
came out in '92, before a lot of other things that look like it."