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Evel Knievel’s son, Kelly Knievel, is suing Disney for allegedly modeling the likeness of the legendary stunt performer for the scene-stealing Keanu Reeves-portrayed character of Duke Caboom in last year's Toy Story 4. His publicity company K&K Productions filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit in Las Vegas and Disney is ready to fight his claim. But, just how much are the two sides fighting over?
Kelly Knievel is reportedly requesting the House of Mouse pay up for over $300,000 in damages for basing the character on his father. Duke Caboom is a fictional 1970s era motorcycle stunt rider, who is referred to as "Canada's greatest stuntman." The character has since become a popular toy and was featured in McDonald’s Happy Meal promotions in 2019. Kelly Knievel said the following in the statement announcing the lawsuit, per THR:
Evel Knievel did not thrill millions around the world, break his bones and spill his blood just so Disney could make a bunch of money.
Evel Knievel is never named in Toy Story 4, but K&K Productions claims Pixar based the character on his father, who achieved over 75 motorcycle jumps during his career and died in 2007 of lung disease. Both Duke Caboom and Evel Knievel wore mainly white suits with a low collar, red stripes, a belt buckle and cape. In terms of the Toy Story 4 character, Duke is repping Canadian colors only (white and red) and a maple leaf, whereas Evel wore red, white and blue, with stars resembling the American flag. You can check out promotional material for Duke in Toy Story 4 here:
The stunt performer rose to fame in 1967 when he jumped the Caesars Palace fountains, and Duke Caboom was created to be a ‘70s-era toy. The lawsuit also connects the wound-up stunt cycle toy in the movie to a real Evel Knievel toy with similar aesthetic and functionality. Disney has communicated in a statement that it is ready to push back on Kelly Knievel’s lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that Disney specifically instructed the Toy Story 4 cast and crew to avoid comparing Duke Caboom to Evel Knievel, along with steering away from associating the movie with other trademarked items. Another example of this is Tony Hale’s Forky character, who allegedly had to work around calling him a spork for legal reasons.
Disney certainly made money off its toys based on Toy Story 4, which made over $1 billion at the box office last summer, becoming the highest-grossing film in the franchise yet. It was certainly a fun role to see Keanu Reeves take on. We’ll keep you updated on how this lawsuit shakes out, along with other movies and TV updates. For now, stay tuned for the next Pixar movie set to be released, with Soul coming out on November 20.