Gary Goldman (screenwriter)

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Gary Leon Goldman (born 17 September 1953) is an American screenwriter. His film credits include Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Total Recall (1990) and Navy SEALs (1990).


Gary Goldman's first big screen writing credit was for John Carpenter's fantasy martial arts film, Big Trouble in Little China, which he co-wrote with David Weinstein. Originally set in the old west, the script was later adapted by Carpenter's former classmate at USC film school, W. D. Richter, to take place in modern times.[1]

Goldman's next major writing job came in 1989 for the science fiction action film Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Originally written by Ronald Shusett and Dan O'Bannon, director Paul Verhoeven had problems with the third act and hired Goldman to help fix the screenplay. According to the director, the problem was that the last forty minutes of the film was one long action sequence and had abandoned the "mental theme." Working with Shusett, Goldman was able to reintroduce this mental theme by adding a plot twist where the audience discovers that Schwarzenegger's character, who is assumed to be a good guy, had his memory wiped and is actually a bad guy.[2]

Shortly after the success of Total Recall, Goldman and Shusett co-wrote a screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick's story, The Minority Report, to serve as a possible sequel to the film.[3] Although their screenplay was not used, the 2002 film, Minority Report, has a sequence set in a car factory, which was adapted from their early script. In the end, Goldman didn't receive a writing credit, but was listed as an executive producer of the film.[4]

By 2003, Goldman's career had slowed down, and manager Lenny Beckerman suggested that he adapt another Philip K. Dick story. Goldman had a good relationship with the Dick estate and was able to acquire the rights to his 1954 short story, The Golden Man.[5] The completed script was sold to Nicolas Cage's production company, Saturn Films, and eventually became the 2007 film, Next, directed by Lee Tamahori and starring Cage, along with Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel.[6] Unfortunately, the film was not a great critical or financial success.[7][8]


On March 21, 2017, Goldman filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Disney over the film Zootopia. The lawsuit claims that Goldman (in 2000 and 2009) pitched a concept to Disney for a live-action film titled Looney, which was about a socially awkward animator who creates a self-inspired TV cartoon called Zootopia. Disney twice rejected the pitch, but Goldman accused the company of copying the name, themes, settings, and character tropes. Filed with the lawsuit was a graphic of early concept artwork of characters that are claimed to appear similar to major characters from the film, including Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps, Flash, and Chief Bogo. A Disney spokesperson described the lawsuit as being "ridden with patently false allegations."[9] After months of back-and-forth deliberation between the two parties, U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald dismissed the infringement claims on November 8, 2017. As stated in the final review, "...Goldman's effort to make the plots of Looney and Zootopia seem similar were strained. All the purported similarities between the two works were themes, not plot points or sequences of events, that were too general to be protected by copyright law."[10][11]


  1. ^ Muir, John Kenneth (2 March 2005). The Films of John Carpenter. McFarland. ISBN 9780786422692.
  2. ^ Duchovnay, Gerald (February 2012). Film Voices: Interviews from Post Script. SUNY Press. p. 186. ISBN 9780791484753. Retrieved 10 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ Ong, Germaine (10 May 2017). "MovieAxis". GameAxis Unwired. SPH Magazines (45): 77. Retrieved 10 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Loder, Kurt (8 November 2011). The Good, the Bad and the Godawful: 21st-Century Movie Reviews. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 9781429938655. Retrieved 10 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ Chad, Gervich (26 November 2013). How to Manage Your Agent: A Writer's Guide to Hollywood Representation. CRC Press. p. 178. ISBN 9781136070945.
  6. ^ Barsanti, Chris (22 September 2014). The Sci-Fi Movie Guide: The Universe of Film from Alien to Zardoz. Visible Ink Press. p. 264. ISBN 9781578595334. Retrieved 10 May 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Next, retrieved 2017-10-12 CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Next (2007) - Box Office Mojo". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  9. ^ Patten, Dominic (March 21, 2017). "Disney Slams "False" 'Zootopia' Big $$$ Copyright Suit From 'Total Recall' Scribe". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on March 21, 2017. Retrieved March 21, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Atkins, Dorothy (November 8, 2017). "Disney Sheds Writer's Copyright Suit Over 'Zootopia'". Retrieved November 8, 2017. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Goldman is Gone - Official Court Minutes".

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