March 22, 2011 7:52am PT by Eriq Gardner
Film Financiers Fighting Over Lost 'Black Swan' Opportunity
A New York film production company is asking a New York federal court to enter a default judgment for more than $10 million against its former president for costing the company a chance at enjoying millions of dollars of revenue and a producer credit on the Oscar-nominated film, Black Swan.
The lawsuit was filed in December by Overnight LLC. According to the claims, the company's Aaron Kaufman misrepresented his knowledge, skill and experience about the financing of motion pictures and committed "gross lapses in judgement."
Overnight contended that Kaufman held the company's obligation to obtain financing on Black Swan hostage to demands that he be let out his contract to pursue a personal business venture. The demand is said to have harmed Overnight's relationship with the other investors on Black Swan and cost Overnight head Rick Schwartz a chance at a producer credit on the film.
Allegedly, Kaufman wanted out of his contract so he could pursue a new venture with director Robert Rodriguez, which according to Overnight, constituted a misappropriation of Overnight's own relationship with the Machete director.
At least $10 million in damages were claimed in the lawsuit for alleged breaches of contract and fiduciary duty plus an alleged misappropriation of corporate opportunity. Here's a copy of the original complaint. Kaufman couldn't be reached for comment, but in the past, he has labeled the claims baseless.
A lawsuit over a lost opportunity at the hand of a business feud is certainly rare and maybe even a stretch. However, Kaufman has yet to officially respond in court despite deadlines, and so, Overnight is seeking a default judgement.
Overnight tried to first serve Kaufman with papers in late December by ringing his doorbell four times to no avail. The company believes that Kaufman was trying to evade service. In January, Overnight mailed a copy of the complaint and summons to his home.
On March 7, a clerk of the court certified that Kaufman had defaulted.
But just to make sure, Overnight's reps showed up at the South By Southwest festival last week. During a dramatic scene during a film financing seminar at the festival, Kaufman was served again with the papers.
Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky, has grossed more than $280 million worldwide.