TIFF: 'London Fields' Pulled From Lineup Over Legal Dispute

Courtesy of Toronto International Film Festival
'London Fields'

The producers of the movie — whose stars include Johnny Depp and Billy Bob Thornton — blast the decision to yank the film as "ill-considered" and say director Matthew Cullen "can't deal with the fact" that he doesn't have final cut.

The Toronto Film Festival has yanked the film adaptation of Martin Amis' London Fields from its schedule over a legal dispute.

"We have recently learned of a legal matter that has arisen between the director and the producers of the film London Fields," the festival said in a statement Thursday.

"We have worked to make our festival a public showcase for creative expression through the moving image, however with uncertainty surrounding the creative vision of the version of the film scheduled to be screened on September 18th, we feel it is only appropriate that we remove this film from the festival lineup," TIFF added.

The move follows London Fields director Mathew Cullen on Tuesday bringing a lawsuit against the film's producers, Chris Hanley (Spring Breakers, American Psycho) and Jordan Gertner, over creative control and payment. Cullin alleges fraudulent assurances over whether he would have creative control of the project and funding for the film.

Hours after the festival announced it was pulling the film, the producers fired back. "We have always loved launching our films here, but feel that in this particular case there has been an ill-considered decision made against our rights. It’s the first time we have ever heard of a festival removing a movie from the festival due to it's imagery being deemed too provocative," they said in a statement.

Hanley and Gertner also labeled Cullen's lawsuit a "publicity stunt." Continuing, they said the legal action "violates the arbitration provisions of his own guild, the DGA. Sadly, Mathew can’t deal with the fact that he does not control the final cut of the movie. He was given two deadlines to deliver a 'director’s cut' and missed both deadlines. His guild has rules for withdrawing his name from the picture and he missed those deadlines. The production company will vigorously oppose the lawsuit."

Withdrawing the film came as the film's producers were gearing up to market London Fields at the Toronto festival. In the lawsuit, Cullen insists he was assured by Gertner that he would receive creative freedom and financial support.

"As principal photography progressed, it became increasingly apparent that Defendants were unable or unwilling to fund the project as they had represented to Cullen," the complaint (read here) said.

The impacted screenings include a Friday night bow in Toronto at the Princess of Wales Theater and additional plays on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. "We are hopeful that this matter will be resolved positively, and that audiences will have an an opportunity to see this film," the festival added in a statement.

The noir crime thriller is based on Martin Amis' 1989 novel of the same name. Set in a bleak 1999 London, the story revolves around a promiscuous psychic (Amber Heard) who meets her fate as foretold by her visions by going to a seedy London pub.

Cullen, best known for his Katy Perry "California Gurls" music video, is making his feature film debut with London Fields. Already before the film was yanked from the Toronto lineup, there were concerns that the director and the film's stars Billy Bob Thorton, Cara Delevingne and Theo James would show up.

Johnny Depp, who is married to Heard, also makes an appearance in the film and has been on hand for two TIFF premieres this week: his film Black Mass and her film The Danish Girl. Hanley's wife, Roberta Hanley, wrote the screenplay with Amis.

Earlier in the festival, the Aretha Franklin biopic Amazing Grace was also pulled from the TIFF liineup, again over a legal dispute. Despite the London Fields lawsuit emerging on Tuesday, the film was still able to secure a U.S. distribution deal on Wednesday.

Lionsgate and Grindstone acquired London Fields and plan a day and date VOD and theatrical release through Lionsgate Premiere. 

Updated Sept. 17, 1:00 p.m. The story has been updated with details on the lawsuit and London Fields screenings impacted.

Updated Sept. 17, 2:40 p.m. The story has been updated to include the producers' statement.

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