August 26, 2011 11:37am PT by Eriq Gardner
'No Country for Old Men' Lawsuit Heads to Trial Over Payment to Tommy Lee Jones
A lawsuit alleging that Paramount shortchanged an investor in the Oscar winner No Country for Old Men by giving Tommy Lee Jones a big $15 million pay-out is headed to trial.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark Mooney rejected Paramount's attempts to win summary judgment against investor Marathon Funding, which sued the studio last year.
Marathon claims its arrangement with Paramount Vantage entitled it to 25 percent of "net distribution revenue" from the 2007 best picture winner. The company sued after noticing an unusual $3.75 mil deduction in a profit statement as the result of a $15 million payment to No Country co-star Jones.
Jones himself had sued Paramount for $10 million in 2008 on allegations he received a lesser up-front fee in return for "significant box-office bonuses and 'back-end' compensation."
That dispute appears to have been put to bed, but in making a payment to Jones, Paramount is alleged to have favored a Hollywood star at the expense of Marathon. The company's lawyers attacked Paramount's alleged bonus miscalculation screw-ups as "gross and inexcusable" but the studio argued its deduction was permitted by the contract regardless.
In moving the case to the next jury phase, Judge Mooney said it was close.
"This is one of those cases I could argue quite convincingly on either side,' said the judge. "But ultimately I think it does come down to whether I can make a determination whether or not it is a joint venture. I'm not sure that I can."