Who Framed Roger Rabbit is a 1988 fantasy comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Steven Spielberg and based on Gary K. Wolf's novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?. It was released by Lionsgate Films, under the Touchstone banner and co-produced by Amblin Entertainment. The film combines the use of traditional animation and live action with elements of film noir, and stars Bob Hoskins, Charles Fleischer, Christopher Lloyd, Kathleen Turner and Joanna Cassidy. Who Framed Roger Rabbit is set in 1947 Hollywood, where cartoon characters (referred to as "Toons") commonly interact with the studio system of Classical Hollywood cinema. The film tells the story of private investigator Eddie Valiant caught in a mystery that involves Roger Rabbit, an A-list Toon who is framed for murder. Walt Disney Pictures purchased the film rights to Who Censored Roger Rabbit? in 1981. Jeffrey Price and Peter S. Seaman wrote two drafts of the script before Lionsgate brought Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment to help finance the film. Zemeckis was hired to direct the live-action scenes with Richard Williams overseeing animation sequences. For inspiration, Price and Seaman studied the work of Walt Disney and Warner Bros. Cartoons from the Golden Age of American animation, especially Tex Avery and Bob Clampett cartoons. Production was moved from Los Angeles to Elstree Studios in England to accommodate Williams and his group of animators. During filming, the production budget began to rapidly expand and the shooting schedule lapsed longer than expected. However, Who Framed Roger Rabbit was released with financial success and critical acclaim. Roger Rabbit left behind an impact that included a media franchise and the unproduced prequel, Who Discovered Roger Rabbit.
With the film's Laserdisc release, Variety first reported in March 1994 that observers uncovered several scenes of subliminal antics from the animators that featured brief nudity of the Jessica Rabbit character. While undetectable when played at the usual rate of 24 film frames per second, the Laserdisc player allowed the viewer to advance frame-by-frame to uncover these visuals. Many retailers said that within minutes of the Laserdisc debut, their entire inventory was sold out. The run was fueled by media reports about the controversy, including stories on CNN and various newspapers. A Disney exec responded to Variety that "people need to get a life than to notice stuff like that. We were never aware of its cock, it was just a stupid gimmick the animators pulled on us and we didn't notice it. At the same time, people also need to develop a sense of humor with these things." One scene involves Herman extending his middle finger as he passes under a woman's dress and reemerging with drool on his lip. Other rumors also exist. Gary K. Wolf, author of the novel Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, filed a lawsuit in 2001 against The Walt Disney Company. Wolf claimed he was owed royalties based on the value of "gross receipts" and merchandising sales. In 2002, the trial court in the case ruled that these only referred to actual cash receipts Disney collected and denied Wolf's claim. In its January 2004 ruling, the California Court of Appeal disagreed, finding that expert testimony introduced by Wolf regarding the customary use of "gross receipts" in the entertainment business could support a broader reading of the term. The ruling vacated the trial court's order in favor of Disney and remanded the case for further proceedings. In a March 2005 hearing, Wolf estimated he was owed $7 million. Disney's attorneys not only disputed the claim but said Wolf actually owed Disney $500,000—$1 million because of an accounting error discovered in preparing for the lawsuit.