January 09, 2013 4:53pm PT by Matthew Belloni
'Godzilla' Studio Sues Producers in Battle Over Credit and Money
Legendary Pictures, the studio behind a planned reboot of the Godzilla movie franchise, has sued the producers of the film over whether they are entitled to remain on the project.
In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter, Legendary seeks a court order to enforce a contract it says allows the studio to dump producers Dan Lin, Roy Lee and Doug Davison in advance of the start of production on the new Godzilla movie. Legendary says it has a March 2011 contract with Lin Pictures and Lee's Vertigo Entertainment that requires it to involve the producers only if they are "deemed to be engaged" to produce the film.
But Legendary says the producing team did little to justify being included on the project.
"Defendants efforts on the project consisted only of introducing a screenwriter to Legendary and contributing notes to a screenplay which Legendary subsequently decided to not utilize," the lawsuit states. "Legendary judged that Defendants offered little to the ongoing production of the film, and that their likely role (if engaged) would not warrant the substantial fees and backend compensation that they could potentially earn as producers."
Accordingly, the lawsuit states, "Legendary notified Defendants in writing that it would not be engaging their services to produce the film."
That notification did not sit well the producers, who, according to the lawsuit, threatened to rush into court and seek a restraining order to prevent the film from going forward. Legendary filed suit first to seek arbitration of the contract dispute.
Godzilla, the Japanese monster property, is getting a new treatment from Legendary, Warner Bros. and director Gareth Edwards. The project is ramping up for a spring production start.
But THR reported on Monday that Lin and Lee, who brought the project to Legendary, were sparring with the studio over the creative direction of the film. Legendary also was said to have wanted the producers to reduce their fees. When the pair declined, the company began the process of booting them from the project.
Legendary argues that the producers are entitled "at most" to a $25,000 development fee, and it seeks a court approval to go to arbitration.
Larry Stein, the producers' lawyer, declined to comment on the lawsuit.
The suit, filed by Dale Kinsella and Gregory Korn at Santa Monica's Kinsella Weitzman firm, seeks a declaration from the court that the March 2011 agreement be enforced and the case be sent to an arbitrator.