Unfinished Film Producer Wants Bruce Willis' $5.8M Arbitration Win Overturned

'Wake' shut down after less than a week of filming and Willis was awarded the missing portion of his paycheck.
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Bruce Willis

Benaroya Pictures is asking the court to vacate a $5.8 million arbitration award to Bruce Willis for acting services he rendered on the unfinished film Wake.

Willis filed an arbitration complaint against BP last year, claiming it breached an agreement by failing to deposit his full $8 million paycheck in escrow before principal photography began. Wake began filming on Feb. 16, 2015, and was shut down because of lack of funds to pay the crew just six days later. By the time producers officially pulled the plug, Willis had only been paid $3 million.

In May, a JAMS arbitrator ruled in favor of the actor, finding BP and its principal Michael Benaroya breached an escrow agreement and negligently misrepresented that the film was fully funded. 

According to the petition, after BP pled counter claims, Willis amended the arbitration demand to include Benaroya and added claims of fraud, negligent misrepresentation and promissory estoppel.  

BP says the arbitrator exceeded his powers by adding Benaroya as a party when he was not a signatory to the agreement. 

Arbitrator Terry Friedman denied Willis' fraud claim, but found in his favor on all other claims and granted an award of $5 million in damages, plus another $461,000 in interest and $354,000 in attorneys' fees and costs.

Friedman pulled no punches in his written award, which is attached as an exhibit to the petition. 

"Benaroya did one thing right," he writes. "He retained good attorneys who advanced every imaginable argument to shield him from liability. Yet it was all in vain as the die had been cast nearly two years ago when Benaroya began an eight month barrage of misrepresentation."

Willis was represented by Martin Singer and Allison Hart in the arbitration. They have not yet commented on the petition.

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