June 15, 2011 2:19pm PT by Matthew Belloni
'The Crow' Remake: Legal Battle Heads to Arbitration
The heated dispute between Harvey Weinstein and Ryan Kavanaugh's Relativity over distribution rights to the planned remake of The Crow will be decided in private. A Los Angeles Superior Court judge on Wednesday granted Realtivity's motion to compel arbitration based on a clause in the contract at issue in the case.
As you'll recall, in April the Weinstein Co. sued Relativity claiming it had breached a 2009 distribution agreement that allegedly gave TWC the right to release the movie globally. Harvey was upset that Kavanaugh had been shopping distribution rights to a remake starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, in apparent violation of the deal.
But Relativity fired back, claiming that TWC botched the release of the 2009 musical Nine so badly that Relativity, which invested in that film, was forced to ask whether Weinstein had the funds available to properly release The Crow. When Harvey balked at showing he was able to commit money to a release, Relativity looked elsewhere.
Relativity and its lead lawyer Carol Genis were quick to issue a statement, um, crowing about the win:
Relativity Media prevailed over The Weinstein Company in court today. The Court agreed with Relativity that TWC's lawsuit against Relativity was improper and violated the parties' arbitration agreement. TWC must now defend itself in the ongoing arbitration proceeding filed by Relativity. In that proceeding, Relativity claims damages in excess of $20 million against TWC for its egregious mishandling of the movie Nine and seeks rescission of the parties' agreement with respect to The Crow. Today's ruling demonstrates that TWC's efforts to misuse the court system as a means of intimidation against Relativity failed. Relativity expects to prevail on all of its claims against TWC in arbitration.
We've reached out to Weinstein lawyer Bert Fields for comment. UPDATE: TWC has issued its own rather lengthy statement. Why do we get the feeling Harvey and Ryan are trying to one-up each other?...
"Relativity has attempted to distort a garden variety procedural motion into something it was not. They should be ashamed of themselves. Today's hearing was completely procedural. At issue was an ambiguous provision in a contact which made it unclear whetherTWC's injunction claim against Relativity should be heard in court or in an arbitration. The Court acknowledged that the provision was not amodel of clarity and further suggested that it was a close question as to whether arbitration or litigation was the appropriate forum. There was no misuse or abuse of the system. The Court said nothing remotely like that. Any suggestion by Relativity to the contrary is patently false. Relativity's gratuitous attacks on the motives of TWC and its counsel are both unprofessional and grossly inaccurate."