If you ask Houstonian Zenon Yracheta, he'll tell you that he's the one to blame for that, shall we say, underwhelming, Hollywood movie about a Chihuahua in Beverly Hills, aptly titled, Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
And to take a swing at proving it, he's filed a lawsuit in Houston federal court against The Walt Disney Company and a slew of its affiliates connected to the release and distribution of the film.
Yracheta, according to his attorney, Kurt Arbuckle, is a 20-something Hispanic guy who boards dogs for a living here in town. In 2004, he claims he decided to try to get into the movie business, so he put pen to paper and wrote and copyrighted a story he called "The Three Chihuahuas." Two years later, Yracheta claims, he hired someone to help him turn the story into a movie script, which he also copyrighted. Yracheta then started pitching the idea all over Hollywood, he claims, including to someone at ABC, an affiliate of Disney.
Nothing came of it, but in October 2008, Yracheta went to the movies and saw Beverly Hills Chihuahua.
"And half way through it," Arbuckle tells Hair Balls," he said, 'This is my movie!'"
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to the mission of the Houston Press. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Houston’s stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
According to the lawsuit, "the similarity extends from the plot itself to include similarities in characters, dialogue, scenes, and props."
Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland tells Hair Balls that the company has not had time yet to examine the recently filed lawsuit and therefore cannot comment on Yracheta's claims.
Says Arbuckle, "We've looked into this pretty thoroughly. Nobody's just going to take his script and make it directly into a movie, they're going to try to make it look like they didn't copy it, but it's pretty clear to me that there are a lot of things in there that are so detailed that it's just unlikely that somebody would create a script that's got those same things in it and did not see our script and wasn't copying from it."
Yracheta does not list an exact sum for which he is suing. He claims that the movie has grossed somewhere between $93 million and $135 million, and is seeking the profits made by those who allegedly infringed upon his copyrighted material.