July 06, 2011 9:08am PT by Eriq Gardner
French Production Company Fined $46 Million for Failing to Distribute Spike Lee's Miracle at St. Anna
Spike Lee has scored a big win in a Paris courtroom. TF1 Droits Audiovisuels has been ordered to pay $46 million to producers of Miracle at St. Anna for failing to honor a contract to distribute the World War II picture internationally.
The dispute centered on a 2007 agreement between TF1 and the On My Own production company. According to the terms of the contract, TF1 was scheduled to release the film about four black soldiers in markets across the world with the exception of the United States, Canada and Italy.
TF1 argued that Lee had delivered a different kind of film than the one it was promised and refused to hand over a nearly $16 million advance.
Now, according to the AFP, a Paris court has found that TF1 is at fault for breaching the contract, ordering the company to pay nearly $29 million in damages, and more for moral prejudice. Spike Lee gets one million euros and James McBride, the author of the novel the film was based on, gets 200,000 euros. TFP also was ordered to pay to $18 million to BNP Paribas bank.
Miracle at St. Anna got mixed reviews in the U.S. and grossed less than $8 million in domestic box office. According to one site, On My Own was set up to mark the fact that Lee was shouldering the financing himself. At the time, the picture looked to be way in the red, costing an estimated $45 million to make.