12:11pm PT by Eriq Gardner
Worldview Takes on Sales Agent for Withholding 'Wish I Was Here' Money
Worldview Entertainment, the troubled film financier behind Birdman and many other films, has a long way to go to resolve the internal power dispute that has hobbled the company. Plus, it's now contending with a sales agent that it says is withholding funds for Wish I Was Here.
After a Kickstarter campaign, the Zach Braff film got money from Worldview and was picked up by Wild Bunch for sale in European territories.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday, Worldview seeks to compel arbitration with Wild Bunch over hundreds of thousands of dollars of the film's proceeds. Wild Bunch retained the funds to offset monies allegedly owed by Worldview over the films, The Search and Jimmy P. Worldview doesn't believe Wild Bunch has a right to do this, calling it the "equivalent of outright theft."
According to a complaint filed in L.A. Superior Court, Wild Bunch has made two arbitration demands against Worldview over breaches of contract in connection with the financing of The Search, directed by Michel Hazanavicius, and Jimmy P, which stars Benicio Del Toro.
In a peculiar legal gambit, Worldview is seeking to stop arbitrations concerning The Search and Jimmy P at the same time as making Wild Bunch go to arbitration over Wish I Was Here.
Worldview argues that what makes The Search and Jimmy P different is that the parties never reached a final, binding agreement for these films — merely a draft agreement that fell short on material terms such as entitlement to net profits, the recoupability of expenses and a holdback provision regarding distribution in France.
The lawsuit doesn't discuss the drama at Worldview — how former chief Christopher Woodrow, board member Maria Cestone and backer Sarah Johnson Redlich came to odds and are now at each other's throats in separate and pending litigation — though authority on deals has been a contentious issue for Worldview. In particular, past court papers revealed that The Weinstein Company brought arbitration against Worldview for allegedly breaching three investment agreements after Cestone jettisoned Woodrow. The settlement of that dispute then brought objections from Redlich over a less-than-favorable deal.