“The Toy Race” is one of the essentials of the Christmas period. Directed by Brian Levant and written by Randy Kornfield, the feature film was accused of plagiarism when it was released by a certain Brian Webster. 20th Century Fox even came close to giving him a large sum of money.
The Toy Race : a Christmas classic
In 1996, Brian Levant (Beethoven, The Flintstones) stage The Toy Race. Produced by Chris Columbus (Mom I missed the plane, Harry Potter to the Wizards’ school) and worn by Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Toy Race quickly becomes a great Christmas classic. The tale tells how Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) seeks, the old Christmas, to obtain the Turbo Man figurine for his son Jamie (Jake Lloyd).
The problem is that all children love this toy. Then begins a race against time for the dad who will do everything to get the famous figurine…
The Toy Race is above all the way to discover once again Arnold Schwarzenegger in a counter-intuitive role. As in Last Action Hero, released a few years earlier, the actor, accustomed to the roles of tough guys, offers here a new facet of his game in the skin of this dad overwhelmed by the situation. On the box office side, The Toy Race brought in more than $129 million in revenue at the 20th Century Fox (for a budget of $60 million).
The origin of the scenario
This funny and quirky plot was born from the mind of screenwriter Randy Kornfield. He had the idea of The Toy Race when he saw how much the demands on the figurines Power Rangers and the Cabbage Patch Kids dolls were extremely high in the early 1990s. These toys were so popular with children that it was not uncommon to see some parents fighting over the latest products a few days before Christmas.
Randy Kornfield has always said that the synopsis of The Toy Race came to mind when he watched his in-laws go to a toy store a few days before Christmas to get a figurine of a Power Ranger for their son.
Chris Columbus also participated in the screenplay of The Toy Race. In 1996, the filmmaker experienced a situation similar to that of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character when he wanted buy a Buzz Lightyear figure. The director and producer then rewrote certain passages from Randy Kornfield’s screenplay to accentuate the criticism of this consumer society.
A story accused of plagiarism
Yet, while The Toy Race is not an adaptation of a novel or any other work, Randy Kornfield and Chris Columbus have been accused of plagiarism by a Brian Webster, a biology professor in Detroit. Indeed, the latter argued that he had proposed at the 20th Century Fox a similar scenario in 1994 entitled Could this be Christmas?. The studio would then have kept its script without ever paying it.
The case was thus brought before the Michigan court. A jury even ruled in favor of Brian Webster and condemned the 20th Century Fox to pay $19 million in damages to the teacher. An amount that was subsequently reduced to $1.5 million. Finally, after a new judgment, Fox didn’t pay anything to Brian Webstersince it has been established that The Toy Race was adapted from Randy Kornfield’s screenplay. This one was indeed developed before Brian Webster proposed his story to the studio.