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JUL
12
1 years

Filmmaker Claims Netflix Committed 'Most Egregious Act Ever' by Distributor

The video-on-demand service allegedly allowed people to save the movie "Suing the Devil" for later watching, but never had any intention of actually delivering it.

In a new lawsuit against Netflix, a filmmaker and licensed attorney named T. Allen Chey asks a judge to allow The Hollywood Reporter to cover a trial "to prevent other innocent people from going through what Plaintiff went through."

As we await the judge's invite, Chey describes the "most egregious act ever committed by a film distributor."

Chey, who says he graduated from Harvard and USC, has an imagination when it comes to lawsuits. The subject of his real-life one is a film entitled Suing the Devil, starring Malcolm McDowell, Corbin Bersen, Rebecca St. James and Tom Sizemore about a law student who sues Satan for $8 trillion dollars.

Chey wants much less from Netflix -- at least $10 million -- over allegations of fraud, misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, copyright infringement, infliction of emotional distress and tortious interference.

In August 2011, the plaintiff implies that Netflix allowed its customers to put Suing the Devil in their queue.

"Plaintiff and his film team noticed Netflix put the film on its site with a 'SAVE' button, enticing it's [sic] customers, both old and new, to 'SAVE' the film," says the lawsuit. "What 'SAVE' means on Netflix, is when a film comes out on either DVD or streaming, that customer will get the film when it comes out later in the year."

Chey says his film was the top faith-based movie in theaters in August 2011, the best-selling movie on ChristianCinema.com, one of Wired Magazine's most anticipated summer films, that it made it into 33,000 Redboxes and was a hit on Walmart's on-demand site, Vudu.com.

But evidently, the film never made it on to Netflix, and so while Suing the Devil may have been a niche hit, it wasn't Saints and Soldiers, currently very popular on Netflix's network. And Netflix's advertisement (or whatever you want to call that invitation to SAVE) allegedly steered customers wrong.

The lawsuit says, "Plaintiff believes this action hurt theatrical sales as customers stated on Facebook and in person that they would 'wait until it comes out on Netflix.'"

Chey says Netflix never intended to license his film. He says he took it to them three times, and that Netflix passed. Each time added to his misery as "so many customers would have bought the DVD or paid for VOD had the customers known it would not be available on Netflix."

"Bait and dump" is the phrase used to describe Netflix' allegedly "horrific conduct."

In Chey's film, Satan shows up to defend himself with "eight of the world's best trial lawyers" in tow. No word on who Netflix is bringing to this fight. The company said it had no immediate comment on Chey's lawsuit, which at best will save the souls of the innocent, and at worst will score some free publicity.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner