January 07, 2013 11:00am PT by Borys Kit
'Godzilla' Producers Wage Battle Against Studio
A battle is brewing between Godzilla producer-financier Legendary Pictures and the two producers who brought the project to the company.
Gozilla, the famed Japanese monster property, is getting a new movie treatment from Legendary and Warner Bros. (the studio has a 25 percent stake) with Gareth Edwards directing. The project is ramping up for a spring production start, with offers out to several top actors. (Joseph Gordon-Levitt was on the list but has since passed).
According to Legendary sources, the company and producers Dan Lin and Roy Lee are sparring over creative and financial differences. Warners insiders say Legendary wanted the producers to reduce their fees. When the pair declined, the company began exercising a pay-or-play clause in their contracts to boot them from the project, a nearly unheard-of move. The dispute first was reported by Hitfix.
Lin, a producer behind this week's Gangster Squad, and Lee, brought the much-sought-after Godzilla project to Legendary in early 2010; Lin, in fact, was the one who flew to Japan to help close the rights with Japan's Toho Co.
At the time, the pair was going to produce with Legendary’s Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni along with Brian Rogers.
In the fall, Mary Parent, a producer on Legendary’s $200 million 2013 tentpole Pacific Rim, came on board.
Godzilla is a potential tentpole franchise, so hundreds of millions of dollars are on the line. But the pay-or-play move has a couple of potential ramifications.
It could affect how producer deals are inked going forward, as those who bring projects to companies seek to protect themselves. And it could prove to be a marketing problem for Godzilla, especially in Japan, when Legendary and Warners could be forced to explain how two prominent Asian producers were taken off the most Asian of movie properties.