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‘Gremlins’ director says Baby Yoda is ‘completely stolen’ from cult classic film

Left, Gizmo from the film 'Gremlins.' Right, Baby Yoda/Grogu from 'The Mandalorian.' . Getty Images / Lucasfilm Ltd.

It’s time to pick a side: Team Gizmo or Team Grogu?

Gremlins director Joe Dante has slammed the Star Wars series The Mandalorian for what he believes is a shameless ripoff of his 1984 film’s leading fuzzy creature, a Mogwai named Gizmo.

In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Dante aired his grievances about Disney and Lucasfilm’s much-beloved character, Baby Yoda (whose real name was revealed to be Grogu).

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“I think the longevity of (the Gremlins films) is really key to this one character (Gizmo), who is essentially like a baby,” Dante told the publication. “Which brings me, of course, to the subject of Baby Yoda, who is completely stolen and is just out-and-out copied. Shamelessly, I would think.”

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Gizmo is the adorable main Mogwai character in Dante’s classic ’80s horror-comedy Gremlins and its 1990 sequel, Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

Grogu was introduced in the pilot episode of the first season of The Mandalorian, released in 2019. Gizmo and Grogu quickly became beloved for their baby-like behaviours, wide-eyed stares and high-pitched babbles.

Both characters embedded themselves in the cultural zeitgeists of their respective times. Still, Dante says he will not be suing Disney and Lucasfilm over the alleged uncredited inspiration.

This fall, the Gremlins franchise will make a return in HBO Max’s new animated series Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai. Dante served as a consultant on the project.

The HBO series features several voice actors including Ming-Na Wen, BD Wong and James Hong.

“The people in my generation who loved movies love them because they saw them with an audience,” Dante said, claiming the in-theatre experiences of Gremlins is what made the film the cult classic it is today. “I’ve seen these pictures over the years many times all over the world, and they always play well in a crowded theatre.”

Dante said whenever he hosts screenings of Gremlins or Gremlins 2: The New Batch, he always polls the audience on who has seen the films in the past.

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“There’s always about a third of the audience, usually young, who haven’t seen the movies,” he said. “They’re somewhat different than the run-of-the-mill movie. They’re offbeat in a way that I think is one of the reasons that they’re still popular.”

The first episode of Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai premiered at the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in June. Grogu is set to return in The Mandalorian Season 3, though Disney+ has not announced a release date.

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