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The Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan, his producer wife Emma Thomas Nolan and their company Syncopy filed suit Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court against their former agency CAA and their current agency William Morris Endeavor to determine who should receive commissions for their work.
Nolan left CAA earlier this year to follow his agent Dan Aloni to WME. According to the suit, he has since been told by both agencies that he needs to pay their commissions on the millions he and his wife have made from the mega-hit movie The Dark Knight Rises.
“Demand has been made on the Plaintiffs by their former and current talent agencies to pay commission on sums arising out of the same project(s),” the suit says.
CAA, the suit explains, has said it should be paid for revenue from any projects initiated while he was their client, which would include the Batman movies. And WME, which signed Nolan before The Dark Knight Rises was released and handled strategy calls after the Aurora, Colo. shooting, said that as his agency of record it has a right to a portion of those payments.
Nolan and Thomas say in the suit that they take no position as to which agency should be paid the money, which they have already received — they want the agencies to work it out, then tell them who to pay.
There is much at stake. The Nolan’s are known to have made a rich deal with Warner Bros. thanks to the success of their earlier movies. The Dark Knight Rises has grossed more than $433 million domestically and $574 million in international markets for a total gross of just over $1 billion.
The suit does not specify what percentage the agents are owed but it is probably less than the standard 10 percent. Even so, that will be a significant amount of money.
The suit also seeks back the cost of filing the lawsuit.
The back-story here is tied to the February 2012 parting of Aloni and CAA, where he had been an agent since 2005. CAA reportedly fired Aloni, who then joined WME and took many of his high-profile clients with him. Besides Nolan those include Jim Carrey, Mike Myers, Jay Roach, Tom Shadyac, Neal Moritz, Jonathan Mostow and David Goyer.
The Nolans joined Aloni at WME in March. After Dark Knight Rises came out in July, the tragic shooting occurred in Aurora, Colorado which led to a lot of calls to Nolan’s agency and discussions about strategy. As a result, WME feels it should be compensated.
The suit was filed on behalf of the Nolan’s by attorneys Bryan Freedman and Brian Turnauer of Freedman & Taitelman in Century City. That firm declined comment, as did representatives for CAA and WME.
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